Africa: Kenyan Official Calls for Climate Justice
By Henry Neondo
Africa should demand for climate justice regimes and action from the global community, Kenya’s Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources has said.
Speaking while opening a workshop by civil society groups from around Africa coalescing under the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA); Ali Mohammed Dawood said the demand for justice is a priority for Africa as the continent emits the least greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
“As a continent, Africa remains highly vulnerable to climate change impacts because of its unique location and low adaptive capacity due to its development challenges,” he said.
He noted that frequent and intensive occurrences of major calamities such as droughts and floods have led to the reversal of our economic gains made over the recent past.
Mohammed said the impacts of climate change continue to be felt by communities around the world, whether rich or poor, in the North or south.
However, he said, the severity of the impacts varies with the level of economic development and vulnerability.
The PS said the civil society organisations, particularly, carry the voice of the most vulnerable, and their efforts to elevate these voices to the highest level are not carried out in vain.
He said through unity between the government and civil society will influence world leaders to agree on the global climate change deal that Africa really needs.
The PS noted that although the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations provides the space to push for global solutions to climate change, major strides have been achieved in the process by developing the Convention, its Kyoto Protocol and supporting mechanisms and institutions, but this will not be an amicable solution to keep Africa and its people safe.
Authoritative scientific reports present worrisome trends of increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which indicate that the world is headed for a 40C temperature increase and this means more than 60C for Africa.
“The consequences of such scenarios are devastating for our countries in the Continent,” said the PS.
Helen Dennis, Senior Adviser, Poverty Over and Inequality, Christian Aid, UK said there are lots of indications that show climate change is heightening tensions between communities across many African societies.
“This is mainly due to increased vulnerabilities due to falling capacities of land and humanity to produce enough food,” she said.
He thanked African CSOs for its efforts in keeping government on its toes to demand for climate justice for Africa.
Speaking on the recently concluded the 18th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Doha, Qatar, the PS noted, Africa was united and presented common positions, and played an important role in the negotiations.
He said despite challenges, the Conference in Doha delivered an acceptable outcome, which is stepping stone in the process towards comprehensive legally binding climate regime.
The package of decisions popularly referred to as the “Doha Climate Gateway” includes significant outcomes for Africa, which are adoption of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol which started on January 1, 2013.
The Doha also saw some countries provide specific clarity of the amounts they intend to provide, agreed on need to a scientific review of the adequacy of the long-term global goal and progress towards it and completed infrastructures and institutions to facilitate climate action including on the technology mechanism.
The COP18 also set an ambitious timetable for the delivery of a new legally binding agreement by 2015 which will come into force by 2020 and deliver significant achievements to improve the voice of women and youth in the UNFCCC process and this could not have been achieved without your collective voice.
However, said the PS, the Doha outcome package was not ambitious enough especially, in terms of the emission reduction commitments by developed countries and provision of enhanced financial commitments to adequately assist Africa in responding to climate change.
The PS said action on climate change by all including in countries in Africa is a must to secure the survival of African countries, peoples, natural resources and economic competitiveness.
He told participants that Kenya has developed a National Climate change Response strategy in 2010 that sets a vision of a prosperous and low carbon Kenya.
Mohamed added that over the last one and a half years, the government has coordinated the stakeholders to prepare a harmonised comprehensive National Climate Change Action Plan.
Furthermore, he said, climate change is being integrated into Kenya’s national development plans, including our development blueprint Vision 2030.
“I am confident that with the implementation of the Action Plan and other priority actions, this will lead to reduced climate vulnerability as well as enable Kenya to develop in as low carbon a way as possible and harness the many benefits that Green Growth provides for sustainable development,” he said.
Best practice in reducing the risks and harnessing these opportunities related to climate change undertaken by Kenya and other African countries can be shared across national and regional borders to support one another in addressing common vulnerabilities and achieving sustainable development.
He noted that Kenya is building a climate change resource centre, which will be the home of a new climate change information and knowledge management system for sharing lessons within and outside of Kenya.
He urged civil society representatives present to work closely with their governments to make more impact in the climate negotiation processes.