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Take driver's seat on climate action, CS tells architects

By James Wanzala | September 30th 2021
By James Wanzala | September 30th 2021

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure Housing, Urban Development and Public Works James Macharia and Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) President Wilson Mugambi during this year's AAK annual convention in Mombasa. [James Wanzala,Standard]

Housing Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has urged architects to play a bigger role in ensuring that carbon emission is reduced.

The world has in recent years experienced unprecedented weather patterns characterised by high temperatures, extreme rainfall and severe droughts, triggered by carbon emissions resulting from industrialisation and other human activities.

“High levels of congestion and pollution, and increased incidents of floods in urban centres, are a constant reminder of the linkages between the development of urban spaces and the overall wellbeing of urban dwellers,” Mr Macharia said.

“As influential professionals in the built environment, it is incumbent upon architects to play a leading role in reducing the carbon footprint of the building and construction sector.”

The CS spoke last week during an Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) annual convention themed ‘The Built Environment and Climate Action: An Impactful Way Forward’.

This year’s convention took place against the backdrop of the UNEP 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, which said the sector is responsible for 35 per cent and 38 per cent of global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions respectively.

The Climate Change Act of 2016 requires every sector of the economy to integrate and mainstream climate action plans in its programmes and projects.

It provides the overall governance structure for addressing the causes and effects of climate change in Kenya, and supports the coordinated actions being undertaken towards this end.

“My ministry aims to mainstream various climate actions that are in line with Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), our Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan 2016-2030, and Kenya’s commitments under the National Climate Change Action Plan of 2018-22,” Macharia said.

Kenya was one of the first countries to announce their commitment to the Zero Carbon Buildings for All Initiative during the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019.

The UN said the summit, convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, had succeeded in focusing the attention of world leaders, from government, the private sector and civil society, on the urgency for action to address the climate emergency.

The initiative’s main objective is to secure commitments to develop and implement policies to drive the decarbonisation of all new buildings by 2030, and existing buildings by 2050.

“I strongly believe policies that promote the development of green buildings can simultaneously create a wide range of economic and environmental benefits,” the CS said.

AAK President Wilson Mugambi echoed Macharia’s call, saying everyone had felt the effects of climate change in one way or another.

“It is also a fact that building and other works of infrastructure have a great impact on the natural environment, (which) calls for discourse with professionals who plan, design, build and manage them,” he said.

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