Impact of climate change poses grave threat to growth agenda

This file photo taken on December 29, 2014 shows steam rising from a coke producing plant in Bottrop, western Germany. The international community is championing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. PHOTO | PATRIK STOLLARZ | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The economy and the people’s livelihoods are highly dependent on natural resources such as land, water, and forests.
  • Kenya has demonstrated commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

The country faces significant challenges from the negative impacts of climate change that could slow down or reverse some of the gains made in the realisation of sustainable development, if not addressed properly.

The economy and the people’s livelihoods are highly dependent on natural resources such as land, water, and forests, but these are highly vulnerable to climate variability and change.

The agricultural sector, which is highly affected by climate change, contributes 26 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and another 27 per cent of the GDP indirectly through linkages with other sectors.

It also employs more than 40 per cent of the total population and 70 per cent of the country’s rural people.


With rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns, Kenyans will continue to witness extreme weather such as drought and floods.

These events are a threat to development and life.

The Constitution sets out legal commitments to attain social, ecological and economic development.

It provides a firm basis the national and county governments can use to address the challenge of climate change while striving to attain the development goals set out in the Kenya Vision 2030.

These should be addressed based on the need for adaptation to the impact of climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.


Adaptation requires legal and policy provisions, investment in technology, and financial allocations to enable the people, the economy and the environment to continue to function in deteriorating circumstances.

Kenya is among the few African countries that have policies and plans to provide an enabling environment to tackle climate change.

It is among the 170 nations that have ratified the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has deposited an ambitious climate change commitment in line with the Paris Agreement through its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

Similarly, Kenya has championed its climate change agenda in negotiations as evidenced in the 23rd Session of the Conference of Parties (COP23) under the UNFCCC held in Bonn, Germany from November 6 to 17.


The meeting was expected to make progress on the development of modalities, procedures, and guidelines for the implementation of various articles under the Paris Agreement dubbed the Paris Work Programme or Paris Rule Book.

In Bonn, the discussions on the Paris rules resulted in draft texts that reflect uneven progress, comparing the outcome achieved on various articles of the Paris Agreement.

Much work remains to be done to secure robust Paris rules by COP24 next year and countries will have to intensify their efforts to firm up the rules.


Once the Paris Rule Book is adopted, Kenya will be required to report on its progress in meeting its adaptation and mitigation ambitions.

It has demonstrated commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

It is, therefore, crucial to think through what this means while factoring in the capacity to implement climate change actions.

Ahead of the 24th COP to be held in Katowice, Poland, in 2018, Kenya will have to internalise what its commitment to the Paris Agreement really means to the different sectors of the economy.

Kenya must strengthen climate change actions, especially at the county level as provided under the Climate Change Act of 2016, in the spirit of devolution.

Considering the weak considerations and linkage of climate change in the 2013-2017 County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs), the NDC can only be realised if climate change is included in the development agenda at the county level.

Mr Muthami is a programme coordinator at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Kenya Office. [email protected]