President Ruto calls on rich countries to help developing nations fight climate change

William Ruto

President William Ruto meets United Nations Secretary General António Guterres in New York, USA on September 21, 2022.

Photo credit: PSCU

President William Ruto, in his maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly, pressed  rich countries to cooperate and support developing countries in tackling the climate crisis.

While illustrating Kenya’s fair share of the climate crises on Wednesday, citing the ongoing drought, he called for political will to ensure that countries like Kenya get adequate climate financing to get, among other things, climate adaptation technologies.

“It is through collaborations to expand inclusion that we can attain a new paradigm in multilateralism,” he said.

“The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reminds us that we cannot afford to waste another moment debating the merits of doing something vis-a-vis doing nothing.

“It will soon be too late to reverse the course of events, and then even the best possible interventions will not suffice. As leaders, every day is an opportunity to expedite our efforts to confront the triple planetary crisis.”

President Ruto’s statement touches the core of the highly contentious issue raised in previous United Nations climate change conventions, with rich countries failing to live up to a pledge of pumping about Sh12 trillion to developing countries.

This comes barely two months to the highly anticipated climate change meeting, the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.

“It will be recalled that during the Stockholm+50 meeting, which Kenya had the honour of co-hosting with Sweden, there was consensus from States on the need to act urgently in addressing environmental impacts,” the President said.

“Given this agreement, it is deeply concerning that little progress has been made in respect of the needful actions. It is time to collectively contemplate urgent measures needed to implement high-priority actions required to contain ongoing disruptions, as we deliberate on long-term implementation approaches to be undertaken.”

His statements coincide with the ongoing Pre-COP27 conference in Kigali, Rwanda, where climate scientists today echoed his sentiments that it is time rich countries lived up to their pledge.

Addressing key issues that Africa needs to address at COP27, Power Shift Africa chief executive Mohamed Adow emphasised the need for financing that will help in climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.

“The developed world has to honour the past promise that they made. Africa contributes to the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions yet it suffers the ripple effect of climate change. The success of COP27 largely depends on what the developed world will deliver,” he said.

“It is sad that none of our political leaders have understood what is at stake. We need to address the root cause of climate change first. What we call wealth in developed countries came as a result of exploitation of natural resources from our planet.

“Developing countries went slow on that, which is why our contribution to emissions is still quite low. We need to address these issues as they are.”

Among other key priorities, Africa will also address compensation for loss and damage to its natural resources driven by Western countries.

Even as African leaders decry the disappointment from rich countries on climate financing, the continent needs more money than what has been quoted, Rwanda Environment Management Authority deputy director-general Faustin Munyazikwiye said at the Kigali meeting.

“If we take into consideration our vulnerability and the loss we have already [suffered], we need more money. We need to have the capacity of doing the valuation and assessment of what we have already lost as a result of climate change,” he said

President Ruto highlighted some of the climate-related adaptation solutions that Kenya is implementing.

“Kenya is responding through substantial investment in climate-resilient agriculture. At the core of our 10-year strategy for Agricultural Sector Growth and Transformation are 9 flagships,” he said.

“They include the registration of farmers to direct incentives, improving farmer practices through customised extension services, monitoring of emergency food reserve stocks using a Digital Food Balance Sheet and the use of Early Warning Systems to monitor food supplies and market prices.”

He added that Kenya will be at the forefront in ending plastic pollution. This follows the passing of a resolution to end plastic pollution during the United Nations Environment Assembly earlier this year in Nairobi.

“Kenya is committed to work closely with other nations to pursue legally binding instruments aimed at bringing an end to plastic pollution,” he said.

“As the host nation to UNEP and the UN-HABITAT, Kenya affirms that these critical United Nations agencies have an indispensable role in the promotion of environmental sustainability globally, as well as developing socially and environmentally sound and sustainable cities.

“As we look forward to COP27 it is logical to expect that Member States will shift their attention towards the development and implementation of frameworks for climate change mitigation.”

He urged UN member states to “urgently deliver on all commitments made towards climate financing. On this matter, it is critical to emphasize that we are running out of time”.