What you need to know:
- South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said Kenya has been a leading voice on issues of climate change in Africa.
- President Kenyatta was picked late last month at the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Kenya is expected to play a major role in climate change conversations in Africa and beyond following the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta as chairperson of the African Union’s (AU) Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC).
Nairobi-based Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) said the appointment was a key milestone for Kenya given that Africa will host the 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP27, at the Egyptian resort city of Sharma el-Sheikh later this year.
In a statement, PACJA Executive Director Mithika Mwenda said the election of Mr Kenyatta shows how serious the issue of climate change is to African leaders.
“As an alliance of civil society groups, we are glad that the Heads of State and Government have heeded our call to have the 35th African Union Summit turned into a planning committee for the 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The outcome of the summit indicates our call was well heeded,” said Dr Mwenda.
Dr Mwenda’s remarks were echoed by outgoing CAHOSCC chair and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said Kenya has been a leading voice on issues of climate change in Africa. Mr Ramaphosa said Africa must speak with one voice and adopt a common position ahead of COP27.
CAHOSCC advances the continent’s interests on the climate crisis, in line with the AU’s Climate Change and Resilience Development Strategy and Action Plan. Mr Kenyatta was picked late last month at the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Africa’s priority areas
The session discussed preparations for COP27 after a review of the outcomes of COP26, which took place last year in Glasgow, Scotland.
President Kenyatta stressed on the need to drum up support for Africa’s priority areas, including climate finance, loss and damage, global goal on adaptation, keeping 1.5 degrees celsius alive and recognition of Africa’s special needs and circumstances.
The President reiterated Kenya’s efforts to shift to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and commitment to achieve 100 per cent access to clean cooking by 2028. He further highlighted the importance of reversing degradation of ecosystems and protecting carbon sinks and urged nations to analyse the economic policy implications for COP26 and the Paris Agreement to guide the required policy transformation. The President also called for a climate summit in Egypt ahead of COP27 to ensure Africa speaks with one voice.
Last month, Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko called for urgent action, saying “drought is ravaging our people and livestock, while wildlife is being devastated by climate-induced disaster. The tragedy is confirmed by science – climate change is an emergency, and Africa is least responsible.”
The CS spoke in Mombasa during the launch of African Activists for Climate Justice (AACJ) project – a consortium of five Civil Society Organisations, including PACJA, Oxfam Novib, Natural Justice, African Youth Commission and the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET).
The inclusive pan-African project, which is supported by the government of Netherlands, advocates climate justice in Africa, especially for women and marginalised communities.
“Our goal is to amplify and unite the voices in Africa demanding that the most vulnerable groups– women, youth and local indigenous communities in the target countries be given the capacity to defend and realise their human rights and live a decent and dignified life in a healthy and sustainable environment, within the context of the climate emergency.”