Beyond the “covfefe” moment that went viral across the globe and spawned a healthy serving of meme’s on local online social spaces, a matter that holds much more gravity seems to be passing silently, pointing to probable cluelessness of Kenyan’s to important matters that have a direct bearing on the quality of day to day living.
President Trump withdrew the United States of America from the Paris Agreement that seeks to “keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels”, a move that had Elon Musk one of his more visible techpreneur advisors pushing the green agenda with his companies Tesla and Solar City step down from the Strategic and Policy Forum, a business advisory council to POTUS.
The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort.
The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework. – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
As you would imagine for such a critical agreement, the withdrawal process will take afew years to conclude but this should serve as a wakeup call for all who would care to remember that we as a country also committed on some ambitious deliverables of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, at the Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF15) held during the annual Conference of Parties (COP21), that took place December 2015 in Paris. The Kenya National Adaptation Plan: 2015-2030 by the Government of Kenya published in July 2016 provides a good backdrop on the plans to have us meet our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, in conjunction with 196 other countries.
The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts. – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
While our carbon footprint is relatively low compared with countries such as China and the US, we face the full brunt of environmental degradation that impacts our food security and habitat negatively. Our greenhouse emissions stem primarily from agriculture, urbanization and miscellaneous land use. Energy and transport are significant contributors and this is where we could perhaps fix our short to medium term goals on.
The energy sector is off to a good start with the Ksh. 70 Billion, 310 MW Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Loiyangalani District, Marsabit County and a number of local startups looking to displace wood fuels, develop more efficient and affordable biogas digesters and harness the sun better.
The transport sector on the other hand has a lot of catching up to do and we could do well with policies that make it cheaper and incentivize the purchase of newer and therefore less polluting motor vehicles. The second would be to support the birth and growth of technology based transit innovations in the cities where vehicular traffic has highest density.
With these and 17 other interventions, we must measure progress as a running concern and communicate very publicly about our targets and efforts to drive buy-in from every citizen.
About the UNFCCC
With 196 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. In Doha in 2012, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes the second commitment period under the Protocol.
The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.