Kenya’s annual greenhouse gas emissions are low, at less than a tonne per person, or less than 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), of which a third is from deforestation.
Fossil fuels—gas, oil and coal—contribute the most to global climate change, at over 75 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Arid and semi-arid lands are also prone to harsh weather, making the communities vulnerable to natural hazards, mainly droughts. Seasonal floods may affect various parts of the country.
Activities such as burning fossil fuels increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, trapping more heat from the sun and raising temperatures. CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas driving climate change but methane and others also contribute to a warming planet.
Energy efficiency and renewable energy are the fastest, safest, cleanest and most cost-effective means of reducing our use of fossil fuels and preventing the worst effects of climate change. Nature-based solutions like ecosystem conservation and climate-smart agricultural practices help to protect biodiversity and natural systems while also storing CO2. Techniques like direct capture of CO2 from the air can reduce its levels.
If all human emissions of heat-trapping gases were to stop, Earth’s temperature would rise for a few decades as ocean currents bring excess heat stored in the deep ocean back to the surface. Once this excess heat radiated out to space, Earth’s temperature would stabilise. Experts think the additional warming from this “hidden” heat is unlikely to exceed 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit (0.5° Celsius). Natural processes would slowly remove the excess CO2 from the atmosphere, and temperatures gradually decline.
Parliament should ensure public access to information, public participation on climate change policy decisions and public awareness.
Mr Mwendwa is a communication and media technology student at Maseno University. [email protected].