COP26 should pave way for enhanced climate financing

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday met several leaders on the sidelines of the ongoing 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. [Courtesy]

The COP-26 Conference in Glasgow presents the global community with the perfect opportunity to take the urgent action needed to deliver increased global ambition and mobilisation of climate finance.

The scientific evidence is clear: Immediate climate action is needed. No matter where we live, the daily realities of climate change are already with us, with current drought in the arid and semi-arid lands, which constitute over 60 per cent of Kenya’s land mass, standing out as a clear example.

Furthermore, 70 per cent of natural disasters in the country are weather-related, negatively affecting key economic sectors such as agriculture, industry, energy, water, and tourism. It goes without saying, therefore, that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, severe and costly and will have an immense impact on Kenya.

Africa contributes just 4 per cent of global CO2 emissions, according to the State of Climate in Africa Report, but remains the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. It is time for action if the noble goal of a zero-carbon society is to be achieved, as was envisioned six years ago in Paris, when the international community agreed to limit global warming to between 1.5 and 2.0°C.

The European Union has been at the forefront of these global efforts, demonstrating through bold and concrete actions, that decoupling growth from CO2 emissions is possible - recording 60 per cent GDP growth since 1990 while reducing greenhouse gas emission by 25 per cent during the same period. In July this year, the European Commission released the “Fit for 55” legislative package that aims to deliver a 55 per cent net reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2030, on the path to climate neutrality by 2050.

Kenya has been a continental and global leader in enhancing global action on climate change. Its National Determined Contributions sets an ambitious target to increase adaptation and resilience, as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions by 32 per cent by 2030. Kenya is also in the process of setting up an emissions trading system that will allow companies and other organisations to buy emissions allowances.

Perhaps the most impressive of all is that Kenya has plans to set up a Green Investment Bank to spur investment in public and private renewable energy, energy efficiency, green transport and waste water treatment projects. These actions towards greening its economy, clearly demonstrate Kenya’s clear commitment and continental leadership in this area.

The commitment of the EU and Kenya towards a greener and climate friendly global economy will underpin the future partnerships between the two. However, Kenya and the EU alone cannot make a significant impact, as they only account for 0.8 per cent and 8.0 per cent of global CO2 emissions, respectively.

Other countries – even the most reluctant - must also take up the challenge, commit and support their commitments with concrete actions. Kenya and the EU are working together to inspire other countries to join the path to climate neutrality and a cleaner, more secure and sustainable environment. Through bilateral co-operation and international mechanisms such as UN Environment, we hope to win others over in the same way that Japan, the USA, South Korea and even China were convinced to commit climate neutrality by 2050 two years ago.

The COP-26 Conference in Glasgow presents the global community with the perfect opportunity to take the urgent action needed to deliver increased global ambition and mobilisation of climate finance. It is the last opportunity to get the world back on track. The future of our planet and the extent of damage that climate change is inflicting are truly in our hands. We have the opportunity to build back better and greener from the Covid-19 pandemic, if we make the right and difficult decisions at COP26.

The EU and Kenya remain alive to the serious financial resources needed to improve adaptation and mitigation of climate change risks. The level of financing available is insufficient to meet the needs and ambitions of the developing world – who are most prone to these risks. Developed countries committed to provide USD 100 billion in climate finance, and the EU released EUR 22 billion in 2019 as its contribution towards this effort. We call on other nations to honour their commitments as well.

The EU and Kenya are shifting their investment policies to make them greener, with a particular focus on the rapidly growing global green bonds market, with little representation from Africa. We will work jointly on the instruments and standards to make this possible. As a demonstration of this joint action, Kenya and the European Union jointly hosted the “Opportunities and Challenges in Sustainable Green Finance: The Case of Kenya” on November 4, 2021 as a virtual side-event at COP-26 to showcase Kenya’s experience as an example for Africa and the global community from which valuable lessons are being drawn.

Mr Yatani is Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury & Planning. Ms Geiger is the EU Ambassador to Kenya

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