ADOPT GREEN ENERGY

Kenya urged to harness renewable energy to be climate-resilient

Experts say the route to net-zero would require introduction of drought-resistant crops, efficient water harvesting

In Summary
  • Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biofuels are readily available.
  • However, its potential is yet to be harnessed.
The Sh70 billion Lake Turkana wind power project in Loiyangalani, Marsabit county, which sits on 40,000 acres, on August 16, 2016. The farm is the largest private investment in Kenya, comprising 365 wind turbines, each with a capacity to generate 850kW to provide 310MW to the national grid. Image: JACK OWUOR
The Sh70 billion Lake Turkana wind power project in Loiyangalani, Marsabit county, which sits on 40,000 acres, on August 16, 2016. The farm is the largest private investment in Kenya, comprising 365 wind turbines, each with a capacity to generate 850kW to provide 310MW to the national grid. Image: JACK OWUOR

Kenya can become a climate-resilient nation with a net-zero future only if it harnesses renewable energy. 

Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biofuels are readily available.

On Tuesday, experts said Kenya can only accomplish her vision by adopting green energy.

Kenya’s vision sees solar-powered drip irrigation systems, greater use of indigenous crops, and health systems that can withstand climate change and remain accessible for all.

However, its potential is yet to be harnessed.

During the unveiling of 'the future we want project' on Tuesday, experts said there is a need for renewable energy to be harnessed. 

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is set to be held in Glasgow from October 31 – November 12, 2021.

The conference will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The 'future we want project' puts scientific evidence, international collaboration and the priorities of local citizens at the forefront of the conference.

Academia, business, civil society and citizens across the globe have for the last four months been collaborating on the 'future we want project' that was unveiled on Tuesday.

The project shines hope for an achievable, beneficial, resilient and desirable global net-zero future.

University of Nairobi Department of Architecture and Building Science lecturer Dr Linda Nkatha and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Department of Horticulture associate professor  Prof John Wesonga led on collating evidence on the solutions which could support a climate-resilient, net-zero future for Kenya. 

Dr Nkatha who is also a Kenyan Expert Committee member said the Futures We Want Project provides a refreshed inventory of the latest scientific evidence and a compendium of actions by state and non-state actors around climate action.

“The way it has blended the distinct cultures of science, policy and human service illustrates how achieving net-zero and climate resilience is feasible worldwide.”

British High commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott said as countries gear up to COP26, the UK is supporting climate change research and Kenya is one of their top partners— with 69 projects supported in the last five years.

“The Futures we Want project, has seen Kenyan scientists explore solutions to support Kenya achieve a cleaner, greener future with jobs for all, through sustainable food and water supplies, as well as improved healthcare.” 

COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma said science is clear, countries must act now to put the world on a path to net-zero emissions if we are to limit global warming and keep 1.5c within reach.

This means all countries, businesses and individuals have an important part to play.

“These visions of a net-zero world, published today ahead of COP26, outline how a transition to a climate-resilient future can act as a real opportunity to create new green jobs, build sustainable economies and boost the health and quality of life for millions.”

Experts said infrastructure investments must meet development needs while balancing environmental needs.

Wind and solar power will help meet the energy demands of households, manufacturing and the commercial sector, while surplus energy could be exported to fund economic development.

They said the route to net-zero in Kenya would require the introduction of drought-resistant crops, biogas manure production, and efficient water harvesting, storage, and irrigation system with a step toward agroforestry.

The scientists said agriculture in Kenya may involve techniques such as hydroponics and vertical farming, as well as greater use of indigenous and drought-resistant crops.

Reforesting initiatives will enhance sustainability and climate resilience, and education programmes and government incentives will empower local communities to conserve ecological assets and create carbon sinks, they said.

Infrastructure— including new dams, water pans, storage tanks, boreholes and irrigation systems—will play an important role in Kenya’s adaptation to the effects of climate change, ensuring limited water resources are conserved and deployed effectively.

With underground water storage systems, drip irrigation, and rainwater harvesting, Kenya can make the most of water in limited areas.

New farming practices, like the monitoring of humidity and soil nutrients, will reduce water use in agriculture.

They also said electric bikes, extended light rail and other transport infrastructure that enable Kenyans to get around safely in a low-carbon way are needed.

They also called for proactive healthcare approaches like urban tree cover, walkable cities, and building designs that prevent overheating.

They further called for the restoration of mangrove forests to mitigate sea surges safeguards Kenya’s coastal biodiversity.

Further, they called for small, sustainable changes like using bags made from natural fibres or using bioenergy instead of charcoal for cooking.

Bridging the gap between scientific evidence and citizen insight through a series of virtual workshops, this global project was commissioned ahead of the UK’s CoP Presidency.

It brought together young people, indigenous and rural communities, civil society, business and industry from across six regions of the world, using world-class research and evidence to envision their priorities, hopes and desires for their future.

The project included communities from the UK, Kenya, Jamaica, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and India, to explore diverse perspectives and solutions to the day-to-day impacts of climate change such as electricity generation, agriculture, waste and water management, building design, reforestation and ocean conservation.

These visions, which will be showcased at CoP26, highlight achievable and desirable solutions to climate change, and celebrate international collaboration and science and innovation, ensuring these are at the heart of November’s CoP26 negotiations.

-Edited by SKanyara