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President Ruto: COP27 should recognize Africa's special needs and circumstances under the Paris Agreement

President William Ruto addresses delegates at COP27 in Egypt on Monday, November 7 2022. [Twitter: @StateHouseKenya]

President William Ruto has issued his maiden address at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference which is taking place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

The head of state who is leading the Kenyan delegation in his speech noted that Kenya is among the countries affected as evidenced by the ongoing drought.

“The Horn of Africa region, including Kenya is experiencing the worst drought in 40 years. Two consecutive years without rain have visited misery on millions of people. 2.5 million livestock have died in Kenya this year alone causing economic losses of more than USD 1.5 billion,” said Ruto.

Dr. Ruto highlighted the impact of the drought on Kenyans and wildlife.

“due to drought, many children have now dropped out of school. We have been compelled to make school feeding a priority in order to keep children in class.

Kenya’s world famous wildlife heritage has not been spared either, and carcasses of elephants, zebras, wildebeests and many other wild fauna litter our parks. We have had to spend $ 3 million to supply feed and water to wildlife in the last 3 months,” said Ruto.

The president challenged the delegates to do more than just talk, arguing that delaying tactics and procrastination have hampered implementation of resolutions from previous conferences.

“We cannot afford to spend more time skirting around the real issues and we must break out of the open-ended, process-focused discussions we are trapped in. Further delay will make us busy spectators as calamity wipes out lives and livelihoods.

As we speak, the pledge made 13 years ago in Copenhagen, committing USD 100 billion annually, remains unfulfilled. Such egregious and unexplained default is a major cause of persisting distrust. Neither is there any sound reason for the continuing pollution,” said Ruto.

The president noted that Kenya which has far less resources than the average developed country, has foregone polluting industrialization and growth opportunities while intentionally investing in clean, green energy.

“Instead of struggling to power industrialisation using dirty energy, which is costly and is destroying our planet, we want to make a case for developed economies to decarbonise their production by directing industrial investments to Africa and making use of clean energy to manufacture for the world,” said Ruto.

Africa’s contribution was also on his agenda. Dr. Ruto emphasized that the continent contributes less than three per cent of the pollution responsible for climate change, but is most severely impacted by the crisis.

“It is therefore only fair and proper that this conference takes necessary measures to recognise Africa’s special needs and circumstances under the Paris Agreement, in line with the convention and relevant decisions adopted by previous COPs.

Ruto who is also the coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), outlined that he plans to convene a continental summit focusing on climate action in 2023.

“Kenya’s next significant export will be carbon credits. This is why we call for simplified, more transparent carbon market systems that directly benefits communities and not just intermediaries.  

At this point in the progression of this calamity, we have few choices and little time. Our discourse must focus on delivery, and our conversation must be centred on our commitments and implementation” he said.

According to Ruto, time to act is now.

“I call on every delegate here today to rise to the challenge of this moment, to make difficult but necessary decisions and seize transformative opportunity from the grasp of climate disaster. This means honouring spending commitments for mitigation and adaptation, and mobilising increased financial flows to those affected, especially in Africa.” Said Ruto.