The recent sustainable energy conference at Olkaria, Naivasha, hosted by KenGen with the support of the Ministry of Energy and the Nation Media Group, among other stakeholders, was a step in the right direction.
The new Constitution, in its preamble, says: “We, the people of Kenya, respectful of the environment, which is our heritage, and determined to sustain it for the benefit of future generations....” For donkey’s years, environmental sustainability and renewable energy were not given the seriousness they deserved. Consequently, degradation, such as desertification and desiccation, are being experienced in many places. The carbon dioxide produced by vehicle exhaust fumes, power stations and the burning of fossil fuels has negatively contributed to the rising global temperatures.
Greenhouse gas is a leading cause of the greenhouse effect. Global climate perturbations have a snowball effect, like global warming and global climate change, hence immeasurable and irreversible damage to the environment. It is axiomatic that human activity is largely to blame.
Without a shadow of a doubt, climate change disrupts the supply chain and increases production costs. Unfortunately, it is estimated that developing countries require about $100 billion yearly to mitigate the effects and adapt to climate change.
Climate change poses one of the greatest risks to the environment in Africa. It affects natural resource conservation and sustainable use and threatens to reverse decades of socioeconomic development efforts. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 13 aims at urgent action to combat climate change and its effects. But mammoth deforestation, wanton pollution, soil erosion, mismanagement of waste disposal, poor urban planning, burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse emissions, among others, stand in its way. Worse, the world’s energy resources are depleted at an alarming rate.
Household air pollution
The 2014 Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) assessment shows more than 15,000 Kenyans die annually from exposure to household air pollution from burning solid fuels while experts say Kenya loses 12,000 hectares of forest every year through deforestation. Deforestation is responsible for an estimated 20 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Understandably, a lack of environmentally friendly practices could have devastating environmental effects on our economy.
The government must implement Article 69(1) of the Constitution and every citizen help to protect and conserve the environment for ecologically sustainable development. The use of renewable sources of energy—such as wind, solar, water and wood and waste products, as well as environmentally friendly products—cannot be overemphasised.
Drastic changes are needed if environmental catastrophe and apocalypse are to be avoided. Let us embrace renewable energy for sustainable development now. Prevention is always better than cure.
Mr Muthama is a business and strategic management lecturer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), management consultant and author. [email protected]