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ELECTION 2022

‘A’ for effort in Kenya’s push for climate action

OPINION
By Lynet Otieno | Dec 25th 2021 | 2 min read

Turkana women fetch water from a manmade well. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Despite being one of the most affected by climate change in the global south, some of Kenya’s uptake of climate action and gains in 2021 are worth celebrating.

One such was Kenya Electricity Generating Company, KenGen, which this year became the first public service agency to join ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°C’, a UN-backed climate action campaign.

This was a sign of Kenya’s commitment (through the parastatal) to reduce harmful emissions by focusing more on renewable energy sources. And KenGen must periodically report its achievements on this for accountability.

KenGen has recently announced increased hydropower-sourced energy (by 5.6 per cent), beyond its 581-Megawatt hour (MWh) monthly targets. This, added to the Lake Turkana Wind Power Power project potential and gains, as well as the increased appetite for solar power across sectors; and KenGen’s own geothermal source, Kenya is on the right track.

Several homes in rural areas are slowly shifting from kerosene to solar-powered lighting, saving many from in-house pollution. A lot of firms across the sectors, including those in banking, communication and manufacturing sectors, have set aside funds for conservation activities as well as capacity building for environmental sustainability.

Conservation now dominates corporate social responsibility activities, with many going beyond tree planting for cameras. This means increased awareness on the crisis, which is key for Climate Action (Sustainable Development Goal 13). And we can do better.

Once, years ago, when politics surrounding the Mau Forest escalated, a politician trashed another’s earlier push for settlers’ exit from the natural resource, and sarcastically asked if rains really came from trees. The rally chanted in praise when he said rains “come from heaven”.

The politician may have knowingly misled the people, where euphoria overpowered reason, and no one asked a question. But this shows how critical political will, and opinion leaders are in climate action and why awareness on this matter must be made louder than irresponsible politicians.

Like the government did with HIV/Aids, and recently Covid-19, awareness on conservation, besides individual responsibility, must be emphasised and more resources allocated for the same.

This should extend to key legislators in Pan-African Parliament, East African Legislative Assembly, all ministries, and the national, as well as county assemblies to ensure decisions on tackling climate change are well informed. There is also need for tracking and reporting on achievements.

Truth is, this climate monster is here, and since the environment determines if we live or die in disasters, food production, manufacturing (raw materials), and national development must aim at reducing our carbon footprint.

Lynet is Quality Assurance Editor at Standard Group.

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