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Africa Must Resolve Failure to Realise Paris Climate Deal, End Its Dilemma

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Under the Paris Agreement, every signatory is required to prepare a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) plan every five years. A party to the UNFCCC, Kenya has so far prepared its NDCs in 2015 and 2020. The plan set out in the 2020 report is comprehensive and detailed in its presentation of the country’s adaptation and mitigation measures.

First, it estimates a $62 billion (Sh6.8 trillion) need for mitigation and adaptation actions across sectors up to 2030. Of that, 71 per cent is needed to build Kenya’s resilience against increasing climate change impacts. Given competing budgetary needs, only 13 per cent of the budget can be raised at home.

Moreover, access to other financing sources, such as the Green Climate Fund, must pass through three accredited entities in the country — Nema, KCB and IUCN. That is onerous and can take up to three years. The criteria are extremely complex and few institutions have the capacity to prepare credible proposals that meet the requirements.

With the immensity of the climate change crisis, African countries should renegotiate with the management of the Green Climate Fund to relax the cumbersome approvals. Also, the accredited entities will need seed money for the training of staff and consultants to prepare concept notes in a bid to boost the number of project proposals.

$100 billion

More importantly, the $100 billion promised by donors in 2009 is yet to materialise. But that is not unusual: It has been a thorny issue for all major UN conferences since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 — the first major environmental meeting. The donors could not agree on new funding for the outcome document, Agenda 21, and its Chapter 33 remained inconclusive, with bracketed sections.

Perhaps tellingly, most of the pledges were grants and not loans, suggesting why donors have been reluctant to fulfil them. Accordingly, developing countries should revisit their targets as they might not reach them. They should ensure that their implementation of climate change-related activities is well coordinated.

Most NDC activities are spread across various sectors — agriculture, transport, industry, water and so on — with the risk of duplication. Individual companies, for example, Safaricom, have committed to net-zero emissions by 2050. Under its NDC plan, the government should ensure that all entities are moving in lockstep in the same direction.

Climate Change Act

Furthermore, the roles of the national and county governments in mainstreaming and implementing climate change actions need to be much better coordinated, as stipulated by the Climate Change Act. Some of their activities, like tackling crises such as drought, are fragmented across different ministries. This may be due to a failure to accord the necessary priority to matters of the environment.

Thirdly, climate change is a complex subject and response efforts are hampered by a lack of expertise, especially at the county level. Capacity building and public awareness measures are urgent. These should include strengthening lead institutions’ capacity to develop and implement NDC-related policies and programmes, coordinating with sectoral ministries and counties, and engaging other stakeholders in implementation.

Fourth, the country faces a difficult choice: it desires to exploit its fossil fuel resources, especially coal, to realise its development objectives. However, plans to build two coal-fired power plants and to expand domestic coal mining run counter to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree Celsius temperature objective.