The climate change agenda refers to a global effort to address and mitigate the challenges posed by climate change. They include a wide range of policies, actions, and initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to the impacts of climate change, and transitioning to a more sustainable and resilient world.
The agenda is driven by the recognition that human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, are leading to a warming of the Earth’s climate, which has far-reaching and potentially catastrophic consequences for the planet and its inhabitants.
In September 2023, Kenya hosted the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS), where leaders, policy makers, climate experts, businesses, civil society organizations and other stakeholders from various countries came together to discuss and act on climate-related issues.
The summit ended on Wednesday September 6, 2023, with the “Nairobi Declaration” which called for world leaders to back global carbon taxes to fund climate action.
The declaration also called on the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters and its richest countries to keep their promises — noting an unfilled pledge of $100 billion in annual climate finance to developing nations, made 14 years ago — and for today’s world leaders to rally behind a global carbon tax on fossil fuels, aviation, and maritime transport.
The lowest emitters in the world include African countries – who suffer from some of the worst impacts of climate change – and yet receive only 12% of the financing it needs to cope.
During the summit, governments and private investors committed billions of dollars to green initiatives, including a $4.5 billion (roughly €4.2 billion) pledge by November’s COP28 hosts the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Why is the Conversation on Climate Change Important to Kenya?
Like any country, Kenya is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
This includes droughts, floods, and changing weather patterns. These challenges affect various sectors, such as agriculture, water resources, and infrastructure.
Kenya is already experiencing more frequent and severe droughts, which are having a devastating impact on agriculture, livestock, and water resources.
The 2017-2018 drought was the worst in Kenya’s history, leaving millions of people without food or water as well as the loss of over 1 million livestock.
In addition, climate change is leading to more intense rainfall and flooding, which are causing widespread damage to infrastructure and property.
The 2020 floods in Kenya were the worst in decades, and they displaced over 200,000 people.
Nonetheless, climate change has also affected agricultural yields in Kenya, which had led to food insecurity.
The average temperature in Kenya has increased by 1 degree Celsius since 1961 and is expected to rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, which could reduce crop yields by up to 30%.
For instance, if something is not done, maize – which is a staple food in Kenya – could see yields drop by 20% by 2050.
However, to combat these issues, Kenya has developed a National Climate Change Action Plan and established institutions such as the Climate Change Directorate to coordinate its climate efforts.
The country has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, and it is investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, reducing deforestation, and promoting sustainable agriculture, building sea walls and other infrastructure to protect coastal communities, developing early warning systems for droughts and floods, and investing in climate adaptation measures for vulnerable communities.
What are the elements of climate change that must be addressed?
When discussing climate change, mitigation, adaptation, international agreements, renewable energy, reforestation and conservation, sustainable agriculture, public awareness and education, technology innovations, climate financing, policy and regulation are key.
In this article I want to address two issues – mitigation and adaptation, and climate financing.
Mitigation and adaptation focus is on reducing or eliminating the sources of greenhouse gas emissions. They are designed to help societies cope with the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
This includes transitioning to clean and renewable work by providing a financial incentive for individuals, businesses, and governments to invest in activities that either reduce or remove GHG emissions from the atmosphere.
The concept behind carbon credits is to create a market-based mechanism that encourages emissions reductions, ultimately helping to combat global warming and achieve climate goals.
It’s important to note that while carbon credits can play a role in reducing emissions, they are not a substitute for direct emissions reduction efforts.
The primary focus should always be on reducing emissions at the source through energy efficiency, renewable energy adoption, and sustainable practices.
Carbon credits should be used as a complementary strategy to offset emissions that are difficult or costly to eliminate entirely.
Financial Support – Climate Financing
Translating climate ambitions into tangible results requires not only robust policies and commitments but also adequate financial resources.
This is the cornerstone of climate action. Providing financial support to developing countries to help them adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change is a key element of climate action.
Developed nations often contribute to climate finance to assist less economically advanced countries in their climate efforts.
Besides, countries like Kenya rely on international climate financing mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs). These funds provide financial support for projects and initiatives aimed at climate mitigation and adaptation.
But they are not enough
Africa attracted only 2% of global spending on renewables over the last decade, according to the ACS2023 summit that ended in Kenya. To enact proper mitigation and adaptation measures, Africa would need a “tenfold increase in the finance capital flowing” into renewables in the next seven years, some $600 billion, to achieve the aim of boosting renewables from 56 gigawatts (GW) in 2022 to at least 300 GW by 2030.
The climate change agenda is a complex and multifaceted global challenge that requires cooperation at all levels of society, from individual actions to international agreements.
Its ultimate goal is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius, to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and create a more sustainable and resilient future for us all.