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Athletics Kenya joins global effort to combat climate change

Tuwei noted that Kenya has a rich tradition in advocating for the environment. Kenyan Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement that contributed to the planting of more than 30 million trees, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004

In Summary

•To mark the occasion, Coe presented Tuwei with a relay baton made of recycled aluminium noting Athletics Kenya’s commitment to the Framework.

•The announcement by the nation’s athletics governing body comes just 10 days after the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that concluded that some impacts of global warming are now unavoidable and warned that the impacts will worsen dramatically if efforts to curb additional warming fai

Martha Musai competes in the women's javelin final at a rain-soaked World Under 20 Championships at Moi Stadium, Kasarani
Martha Musai competes in the women's javelin final at a rain-soaked World Under 20 Championships at Moi Stadium, Kasarani
Image: ERICK BARASA

Demonstrating their commitment to the fight against climate change, Athletics Kenya became the first national athletics federation to join World Athletics as a signatory to the United Nations Climate Change (UNCC) Sports for Climate Action Framework, an initiative urging sports organisations to reduce their carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

The announcement by the nation’s athletics governing body comes just 10 days after the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that concluded that some impacts of global warming are now unavoidable and warned that the impacts will worsen dramatically if efforts to curb additional warming fail. The report, which UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres described as a “code red for humanity”, also reiterated that destructive extreme events we’re currently witnessing, such as record-breaking heat, floods, cyclones, wildfires and droughts are being made worse by human-induced climate change.

“The IPCC report last week served as a vivid reminder of what is at stake,” said Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei. “We are already seeing the devastating impact of climate change in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa. We all have an important role to play and the time to start doing our part is now.”

Kenya, who are currently hosting the World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, and other parts of northeast Africa can expect to see surface temperatures rising at a rate higher than the global average, according to the report, more marine heatwaves and a higher than average rise in sea levels.

Tuwei noted that Kenya has a rich tradition in advocating for the environment. Kenyan Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement that contributed to the planting of more than 30 million trees, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace, the first African woman to receive the prize. Kenya banned single-use plastics in 2017 and was an early signatory to the Clean Seas initiative.

“We have witnessed over and over again this year how the impacts of climate change are affecting our sport and our athletes,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said.

“At the US Olympic Trials in Oregon, where a heatwave of record high temperatures forced the postponement of several morning sessions. In Sapporo, where the heat forced a change to the start of the women’s marathon. In Tokyo, where trackside temperatures reached 41 (Celsius) between sessions. And that is all alongside the deadly wildfires, floods and storms that are taking place in different parts of the world.”

“While the science has shown that some of the impacts are irreversible,” Coe continued, “it has also shown that we can still prevent the worst of the climate crisis. But we, as leaders in sport, must act now. We must use the influence that we have to advocate for a more sustainable future. So I’m especially proud that President Tuwei and Athletics Kenya, traditionally one of our most successful member federations, have also committed to the principles outlined in the Framework.”

To mark the occasion, Coe presented Tuwei with a relay baton made of recycled aluminium noting Athletics Kenya’s commitment to the Framework.