For the first time, Kenya will be negotiating at next week's climate change summit in Paris with a new climate action plan.
The meeting, which begins on Monday and ends December 10, represents the first bid for a truly global climate rescue pact since the chaotic 2009 summit in Copenhagen ended in bitter disappointment.
The goal of the meeting is to forge a pact to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that
are blamed for global warming.
Scientists warn that unless drastic action is taken quickly, warming temperatures will lead to rising sea levels and Mombasa City, for instance, might be buried under the Indian Ocean within this century.
As one of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kenya has already submitted a set of promises on what the country is doing to fight climate change.
The promises are contained in the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), which captures the country’s target to cut Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, as well as mitigation and adaptation plans against climate change.
In the document, Kenya has promised to cut pollution by 30 per cent by 2030, although presently the country emits 0.1 per cent of the total global emissions.
In terms of per capita emissions, the country has less than 1.26 (metric tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent, (MtCO2eq) to its claim, compared to the global average of 7.58 MtCO2eq.
The Paris meeting is expected to culminate into an agreement binding countries to prevent the rise of global temperatures to above two degrees Celsius, as well as open new revenue stream flows to fight climate change, with Kenya as one of the expected beneficiaries.
Kenya will require more than $40 billion to roll out mitigation and adaptation activities up to 2030.
However, the country cannot raise this amount and is hoping to attract international support in form of finance, investment, technology and development transfer as well as capacity building.
“This is a double edged sword,” argues Fredrick Njau, the programme coordinator for east and horn of Africa at Heinrich Boll Foundation (HBF). “The INDC is an ambitious document but it does not show how these targets will be achieved.”
For instance, he argues, Kenya is still going on with oil and mineral exploration, yet documents like the INDC do not mention what is being done to protect the rights of local communities.
Kenya is a key player in the African group of negotiators in the meeting, also called COP21.
“The outcome of the Paris negotiations will inform the direction Kenya will take in terms of development because we are already experiencing GDP losses of about three per cent due to droughts and floods,” explains Environment and Natural Resources CS Prof Judi Wakhungu.
Among the list of expectations is that Paris will push developing countries to honour the release of the pledged USD 100 billion Adaptation Fund per year by 2020 for climate change adaptation.
According to a report by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, only $3 billion of $30 billion announced as Fast Start Finance has so far been allocated to Africa, but half of it has been released as loans.
Kenya has received about Sh100 million ($1 million) of the adaptation fund through the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) for a project named, ‘integrated programme to build resilience to climate change and adaptation capacity of vulnerable communities’.
“Kenya needs a strong legislation on climate change,” argues Peter Odhengo of the climate change unit at the National Treasury. “Perhaps the lack of it is the reason we are seeing flaws in the flow of climate change funds.”
Also on cards is the inclusion of women in drafting climate change policies.
“Most expectant mothers die in labour wards due to food insecurity,” argues Cecilia Kibe of the Kenya Climate Women Justice Champions, a local NGO. “If she survives, she does not have enough nutrients to breastfeed the child hence the growing cases of stunted growth.”
Despite such a hopeful outlook, the Kenyan group of negotiators are fidgeting.
During the African Parliamentarians Summit of Climate Change held in Nairobi two weeks ago, it emerged that delegates were worried about the validity of their visas, if there is an extension to the Paris negotiations.
Questions also were raised about the independence of some negotiators, given that some of them are funded by developed countries’ donors. Some of this funding is limited to the exact date that the Paris meeting is scheduled to end.
It has also been common in previous COPs for developed countries to pass key decisions at night when African negotiators are too tired.
A source participating in COP 21 also shared concerns that the meeting’s organisers are offering free transport at the venue for African delegates who wish to shop in Paris.
“How come UN agencies are setting guidelines for African negotiators yet they are the ones funding some delegates to COP 21,” wondered Catherine Lagat of Geothermal Development Company, during the Parliamentarians’ meeting.