Climate change talks offer Africa a big chance

Rescue team paddle along flooded cars stuck on the road following heavy rainfalls in Erftstadt, Germany, July 16, 2021. [Reuters]

If you were to explain climate change to a grandmother in Siaya or Embu, would you do it in such a way that she would not only understand, but also offer her opinion on how it should be dealt with?

If you were to explain the hole in the ozone layer to a child, would they be left confused or informed? Can you explain what a greenhouse gas emission is, and how they contribute to global warming?    

Environment and Forestry CS Keriako Tobiko seemed to be asking these questions last week, when he urged experts to simplify messages on the climate change dialogue.

It is getting more evident that our weather patterns are not what they used to be. The long rains are short, the short rains are long and seasons are looking more unfamiliar. This has great effect on many things including our food security, and is therefore a crisis that needs to be nationally discussed.

And what better time to escalate the discussion than now? We are days away from the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. CS Tobiko said Kenya has come together with other African governments under the African Group of Negotiators to call for a decision during COP26 to recognise Africa as a special circumstances and needs region. On effects of climate change, Africa suffers the most, yet our contribution to greenhouse emissions is negligent. So as COP26 approaches, Kenya should approach the discussion on climate change as something that has two intertwined fronts: Environmental and Business/Economic.

For instance, re-afforestation to increase our national tree cover restores our water catchment areas, cleans our air among other environmental dividends. Additionally, it has a business and job creation opportunity. Seedling nurturing is a sustainable business young people can be trained in and supported. Governments and corporates can buy the trees from the youth. But as this is done, we must register the tree planting processes with Global Carbon Trading entities, and monetise the carbon trading accrued from the forests. As a country we should enter the space of Carbon Trading, which has been dominated by western countries for long.

The money we earn from carbon trading will sustain the business of nurturing trees and re-afforestation, and the jobs that it creates for the youth.

We as AJW Africa whose specialty is ‘connecting the dots’, propose that we walk into United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow with opportunity in mind.

The writer is CEO Apprentice Job Work Africa.