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An open letter to the president: Climate conference

Dear Mr. President,

The International Climate Conference (COP 21) is coming and world leaders will come together for climate negotiations in Paris on November 30 - December 11.

As a requirement, Kenya submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC)  to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ahead of the Conference of the Parties.

By the Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima, Parties are to agree what up-front information should be provided for clear, transparent and understandable contributions.

Mr. President, The Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released earlier this year, is a sobering reminder that climate change is unequivocal, that it is essentially driven by human activity, and that it represents one of the biggest challenges of our time.

It therefore warns on the risks of inaction as being  too high to be ignored, and the effects of global warming can already be felt in many aspects of human life.

This fifth Emissions Gap report, while it updates the 2020 emissions gap analysis, it gives particular attention to the implications of the global carbon dioxide emissions budget for staying within the 2 °C limit beyond 2020.

It does so because countries are giving increasing attention to where they need to be in 2025, 2030 and beyond.

There is inefficient and wasteful production systems in Kenya, Mr. President leading to unsustainable utilization of natural resources resulting in their degradation in the country .

Further, the poor enforcement of policies and regulations governing production and marketing hinder economic growth and the attainment of its optimal performance, this is what the INDCs says.

Adding  that the environment sector has a number of challenges which include; frequent droughts, natural disasters, acute water shortages, climate change and variability, loss of biodiversity and poor waste management systems.

This has resulted in land degradation and loss of forest cover which currently stands at a mere 1.7 per cent of the total territorial surface area falling far below the globally recommended 10 per cent minimum cover.

The INDC states that Kenya seeks to abate its emissions by 30% by 2030, relative to Business As Usual (BAU)  scenario of 143MtCo2eq.

The INDC is part of the accounting framework for the post-2020 mitigation contributions, whose four key areas are ;- understanding and accounting for non-GHG and multiple contributions; minimizing double counting; accounting for GHG impacts of actions taken in the land sector and ; the timing of decisions on accounting issues.

So the pre-2020 period the information guidance has to be (a) Ensure clear and transparent 

(b) Provide information on expected national emissions levels for the post-2020,

(c) Provide information on expected national GHG emissions reductions for the post-2020 period,

(D) Provide information on expected long-term transformational impacts.

These availed information is to be the basis for tracking progress in implementation of mitigation contributions and actual GHG emissions reductions to be  achieved  in the post-2020.

This includes;

(a) track progress towards contributions.

(b) provide information on actual national GHG emissions levels.

(c) provide information on actual national GHG emissions reductions achieved.

(d) provide updated information on expected long-term transformational impacts.

The INDC has a chart for information  to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding, which provides for an implementation framework for 2030.

But the chart lacks information compared to the accounting for GHG framed mitigation contributions for pre-2020 upfront information that requires that; headline number, contribution type, and timeframe;  base year or baseline; scope of sectors and coverage  of gases; treatment of the land sector , and expected transfers of GHG units and/ or mitigation outcomes.

For the post-2020 tracking  what is required is GHG inventories, accounting for emissions and removals from the land sector; and actual  International transfers of GHG  units via market mechanisms or mitigation outcomes via market approaches.

Adaptation finance tracking requires information on sector, potential impacts and response activity.

Causes of climate change such as air pollution, water pollution, waste production, pollution from fossil fuels, mining, increase in carbon dioxide- soil erosion, extinction of species, faulty consumption patterns, housing and food security issues and over use  of resources, have to be clear.

The price of climate induced loss and damage is already being felt in developing countries. When damage happens, infliction  is said to be huge, with most people losing crops.

Africa’s  Adaptation Gap  report 2, estimates that loss and damage will cost twice as much as adaptation across Africa.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), underscores that climate change exacerbates threats, making delivering on Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs), agenda more difficult because of reversing positive, trends, new uncertainties or mounting costs of resilience.

The Road to Dignity by 2030, notes that the threats that face us, and new opportunities that present themselves, demand a high level of ambition and truly  participatory responsive and transformational course of action.

What are the consequences of delayed action?  The consequences of postponing stringent emission reductions will be additional costs and higher risks to society.

Mary Manneko Monyau, AfDB, described the Bank’s support to African countries to seize low-carbon resilient growth opportunities through the provision of increased climate finance of up to US$5 billion annually by 2020.

Highlighting energy as a priority, she stressed that Africa is tired of “being in the dark,” and called for, inter alia: “ambitious, not ambiguous commitments”; practical solutions for climate resilience in Africa; and increased access to multilateral climate funds and mobilization of domestic funds.

Monica Karangi, Kenya Institute of Public Policy, Research and Practice, has noting that Africa’s low contribution to carbon emissions “is not an excuse,”  stressing emissions are growing due to increased urbanization, expanding economies and a “heavy policy bias” towards motorization.

Using Nairobi as a case study, she lamented that the last land-use plan dates back to 2002 and that promising policy initiatives, such as the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, have not been implemented due to opposing interests.

On his part, John Nyangena, Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, on an  analysis of Kenya’s Climate Change Fund (CCF), has  highlighted key challenges including a lack of definitions and targets for funding adaptation and CCF allocation within existing national funding mechanisms.

Therefore, Mr.President , the Kenyan INDC does not reflect the reality of the range of actions the country is planning to undertake.

It fails to enable the public to appreciate the scale of the challenge faced by the country in its overall planned actions/intended contributions

It has not prioritized its intended actions, in the context of limited financial, technical and human re-sources, and that thus there will be a different mixture or combination of types of actions/contributions (mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage,  other sustainable development), depending on the level of resources available.

It does not show the level of external resources required if the country is to attain certain levels of actions in the various categories of actions/contributions.