What you need to know:
- Sadly as the rest of the world decarbonises, Kenya is making two steps forward and one backward.
- MTP-III then contradicts this ‘GHG-neutral action’ by proposing investment in biomass and coal power plants.
The Kenyan economy relies heavily on natural resources. Some 42 per cent of GDP and over 70 per cent of jobs are directly dependent on fishing, agriculture, mining, forestry, wildlife and tourism and water.
This reality is there for all to see in the background sections of government policy documents. And yet, policy does not seem to protect and guard our natural resources as jealously as it should.
We need to view the threat to our natural resources from a climate change lens. During its 44th General Assembly, the UN said developing countries suffer the most from climate change-related effects.
While ‘climate change’ may seem too abstract a term, it sums up the impact of global natural resource deterioration — a gradual process, but accelerated by human activities. Pollution is the primary cause of climate change, whose most significant trigger is greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Burning of fossil fuels
The World Meteorological Organisation lists carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide as the three most common greenhouse gases. They’re mostly emitted through burning of fossil fuels, exploiting biomass energy, agriculture, deforestation and industrial processing.
Many countries are, therefore, working hard to limit emission of these GHGs.
Since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse emissions was agreed upon, efforts to de-carbonise and increase investment in green technologies have accelerated. It’s now common to see GHG-neutral innovations, especially in the transport and energy sectors.
Sadly as the rest of the world decarbonises, Kenya is making two steps forward and one backward.
Kenya’s Vision 2030 is executed through five-year medium-term plans (MTP), each outlining past achievements and proposing future actions. The current MTP 2018-2022 (MTP-III) states that Kenya is a net GHG emitter.
It proposes efforts to reduce these emissions significantly by 2022. It identifies reforestation as the fastest way to neutralise emissions, and hence proposes to establish eight per cent per cent forest cover by 2022 from 7.2 per cent.
MTP-III then contradicts this ‘GHG-neutral action’ by proposing investment in biomass and coal power plants. Yet the world is moving from these forms of energy with 80 per cent of global coal plants planned for closure within this decade.
If it is serious about reducing GHG emissions, Kenya must abandon its plans to invest in coal and biomass energy. It also needs to encourage green investment in the transport sector, like introducing mass rapid electric buses and trains.
Kenya should exploit its immense unexploited renewable energy sources in solar, wind and geothermal as commitment to climate change mitigation.