CS Tuya put to task by Senate for 'rushing Climate Change Amendment Bill 2023'

Environment Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya before the Senate Lands and Environment Committee. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Environment Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya was Thursday put to task by the Senate for fast-tracking the passage of the Climate Change Amendment Bill 2023, because of the African Climate Summit set to be held in Nairobi next week.

Tuya, who appeared before the Senate Lands and Environment Committee, had a rough time explaining why she had not availed the Bill to parliament on time even though she was aware that the summit was to be held in the country this year.

The CS, however, defended her Ministry against claims that it was spearheading the approval of the Bill due to the historic summit and that the intentions were to raise the country's profile in environmental matters and climate change actions on the global stage.

"Let me dispel this notion that we are pushing the Bill due to the African Summit. Our goal is to raise Kenya's profile on the global stage for taking responsibility for climate change action, we are only asking for the approval of the framework as we work on the regulations," said Tuya.

Tuya told the committee that carbon markets are very diverse ranging from energy and forestry to clean cooking and that the regulations that will be formulated once the Bill is passed will provide specific proposals on how to regulate the carbon credit asking the Senators to support it.

The Climate Change Amendment Bill 2023 was first read on the floor of the House on Tuesday and was subjected to public participation before the committee tabled its report for adoption with Senate Speaker Amason Kingi having called for a special sitting to discuss it.

The Senate Committee members were in dilemma on whether to seek amendment for the Bill or to pass it as it is and then seek to have it amended later.

The Senators said that while they had taken note of the views of the Ministry on the Bill, and the importance of passing the proposed legislation, they were concerned that the time allocated to it was too little with no proper publication of the Bill.

Baringo Senator William Cheptumo told Tuya that she had been in office for one year and should have brought the proposed amendments to the Environment Bill earlier so that members could have considerable time to look at the Bill and make necessary recommendations where necessary.

"It is very clear that the Ministry of Environment came up with the Bill having the African Summit for Climate Change in mind. These amendments should have been brought to the Senate earlier so that we could have time to look at it exhaustively," said Cheptumo.

Taita Taveta Senator Johannes Mwaruma wondered why such a crucial Bill would take so long to be presented to parliament for discussion and that comprehensive public participation should have been conducted to ensure that the input of all key stakeholders was incorporated.

This is even as Speaker Kingi has already gazetted this morning and afternoon to consider the Climate Change Amendment Bill and to alter the Senate Calendar for the second session.

The Committee yesterday worked to beat the deadline to come up with a report to be tabled in the House this morning for debate with the Senate having given various stakeholders a short notice to submit written memorandum on their views about the Climate Change Amendment Bill.

The Senate Standing Orders 148 (1) requires the committee to submit its report within 30 calendar days of the committal of the Bill to the committee, which is September 27, 2023, with the Climate Change Act covering a wide range of issues, policies and regulations not just carbon trading.

The purpose of the Climate Change (Amendment) Bill, 2023 is to amend the Climate Change Act of 2016 to provide for the regulation of carbon markets, which is not addressed in the current Act with the Bill seeking to introduce carbon trading which supports the country to comply with the Paris Agreement that Kenya ratified and became a party to on December 28, 2016.

Carbon market means the mechanism that enables and allows public and private entities to transfer and transact emission reduction units, mitigation outcomes or offsets generated through carbon initiatives, programmes and projects subject to compliance with national and international law.

A carbon credit is created when the equivalent of one metric tonne of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere and is equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount of a different reduced, sequestered or avoided.

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement encourages parties to raise their mitigation ambition through carbon markets and non-market approaches with Kenya having submitted an updated National Determined Contribution in 2020 whose ambition is to reduce greenhouse gases by 32 per cent relative to a business-as-usual scenario of 143 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.

If the Senate approves the Bill and it is assented into law by the President, it will support climate change interventions by enabling Kenya to achieve her Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) in line with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.