Easy ways local polluters can say sorry nicely


Kenya’s Environment and Forestry Minister Keriako Tobiko was recently quoted as telling developed nations to honour their pledge to mobilise $100 billion for climate finance every year. The money should help poor countries cope with effects of climate change. Mr Tobiko, speaking in Naivasha on World Habitat Day, mentioned the G20, collectively responsible for up to 80 per cent of the global Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

This has been an uphill task for Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN) during the CoP meetings. Top personalities at United Nations have made this same call unsuccessfully, despite the Paris Agreement being binding. But what to do!

Despite failure to achieve the $100 billion a year, the AGN has recently been reported as planning to push for $1.3 trillion financing per year by 2030 from these same big emitters. We hope for the best.

Back home, big emitters nationally should also pay for dirtying the environment. In Nairobi alone, traffic jams pollute the air massively. Dust and fumes released as vehicles' engines stay on in traffic may cause or worsen asthma or cancer, and accelerate aging.

More sources of air pollution in Nairobi are manufacturing, dump sites and improper burning of waste, construction, heavy duty vehicles that still run on older diesel engines, to mention a few.

Data from IQAir, an air quality technology firm that monitors air quality in the country, shows that in 2021 alone there have been up to 1,000 deaths caused by air pollution in Nairobi. 

But there are small ways in which polluters, including firms whose use of unclean fuel is inevitable for now, can help mitigate resultant problems, as per the Polluter Pays principle in Environment Law. It means paying for the damage their actions cause to the natural environment.

Manufacturers of goods packed in plastic bottles can help with proper disposal by creating collection points in malls or other convenient places. Recycling companies will buy the plastic.

Firms can install solar panels in schools and villages to help eliminate indoor pollution from paraffin lamps. They can choose to significantly contribute to reforestation.

To stop Kenyans in the north from starving every year, there needs to be a climate finance, where polluters channel funds to help the most vulnerable to climate change.

In the offices, stop providing tumblers and buy employees branded reusable bottles yearly, then redirect the money saved from this to the climate fund. This is cheaper in the long run and minimises improper plastic disposal while at the same time acting as mobile bill boards for your brand.

Investing in solar panels to have a hybrid power supply within buildings and shifting from diesel run vehicles will equally help.

We need to quit the norm and make our small but key contributions to climate action, even as we wait for the big global emitters to act. Planting trees is good, but it is not enough. We must also consciously and consistently reduce emissions.

Lynet Otieno is Quality Assurance Editor at Standard Group

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