As the world looks forward to COP 21 (30th November – 11th December 2015) as potentially the largest and most memorable climate change convention in history, many leaders and citizens from different divides have come out to weigh in on the matter stressing the fact that a deal is vital in controlling global warming.
The fact that the COP 21 aims at achieving a legally binding agreement between nations has set the stakes very high and the whole world is looking to see whether the objectives will be achieved this time round.
President Barack Obama, The Pope, and other leaders have come out to further stress the importance of taking measures to combat climate change .The situation we find ourselves in is very unique where we have the politicians and religious leaders are in agreement, something that rarely happens in this time and age.
In the Encyclical by Pope Francis, he points out that human beings have failed in conserving the environment and have instead resorted to exploiting it at will. He further goes ahead and says that high polluting fossil fuels such as coal should be replaced by cleaner sources of energy as they are among the largest contributors to global warming. This if anything goes to show just how urgently we need to combat climate change.
Even as we look to France for a deal, the climate change effects are being felt harder than ever. Closer home, weather patterns in the food growing regions of the country are now volatile and farmers are having problems predicting the weather. In the Rift Valley, the usual rainy months of April, May and June are now experiencing some of the harshest droughts. These conditions adversely affected the maize produce of the year 2014 damaging more than 40% of the farmers crops and setting the country up for impeding food shortages. In 2013, the emergence of the Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease reduced maize production in the country with an estimated loss of 1,035,420 bags creating affecting farmers income.
As I write this, students in Katuwit Primary School in Baringo must ride a boat to the school they used to walk to just a couple of years ago. This is one of the worst cases of climate change effects in the country. Lake Baringo which just 5 years ago used to experience reduction in water levels during the annual droughts is now almost twice its size, a phenomenon that has baffled locals and scientists alike. Homes, schools, and luxurious hotels have been engulfed by the lake and nobody can give a valid explanation for this.
This scenario is not only unique to Lake Baringo but also to Lake Bogoria and Lake Nakuru which all lie in the rift valley and have been experiencing water rises affecting businesses and peoples lifestyles.
In June 2015, Kenya participated in UNFCC’s Citizen Consultation on Climate and Energy dubbed “World Wide Views.” In this event facilitated by the National Environment Trust Fund, we met Lilian Yahuma, a tours and travel agent who’s business had experienced a massive drop owing to the rise of water levels in Lake Nakuru making the lake inaccessible to tourists. She is just one among many people who rely on tourism as a source of livelihood and experiencing the effects of climate change first hand.
If you are not yet convinced, as of 11th August 2015, Egypt had lost 41 lives to one of the deadliest heat waves ever experienced in the country with temperatures topping 40 degrees celsius. Just two months prior, India had experienced a similar catastrophe with over 2300 lives lost to what has been named as the 5th hottest heat wave with temperatures of up to 48 degrees celsius. In the month of June 2015, Pakistan had another of theses heat waves claiming over 1000 lives with Karachi being the most affected. Those are over 3,000 lives lost in just under 3 months and projections indicate an increase in such cases should the global temperatures soar by 2 degrees Celsius.
The human brain has the outstanding ability to remember 12 digit phone numbers, complex mathematical equations and historical dates but with the current climate change challenges, 2 degrees should be the most important number this year. This is the internationally agreed temperature past which we should not let global temperatures rise.
It is estimated that temperatures have risen 0.85 degrees per year since 1880 and with this, rise the world has already experienced some of the hottest years ever. 2014 was reported to be the hottest year on record at an average of 0.69 degrees Celsius and 2015 is expected to break this record, something that has been happening consecutively for the past several years a clear indicator that something is terribly wrong.
Scientists use 2 degrees as the rule of thumb for dangerous rise in global temperatures and considering that adverse weather effects are already with us, what 2 degrees rise will bring is simply unimaginable. number scientists deem that it is achievable to keep the temperatures from rising and the conference in Paris in November 2015 is one of the efforts to keep these temperatures below 2 degrees.
INDC stands for Intended Nationally Determined Contribution. Every country is expected to prepare and submit to the INDC secretariat clear climate actions they will take towards a low carbon climate resilient future. It is expected to reflect a country’s ambition for reducing emissions considering each country’s conditions and capabilities.
On 23rd July 2015, Kenya through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources submitted its INDC’s something that had attracted a lot of interest and attention from the civil society as well as environmental bodies in the country who wanted to know which direction the country would go.
Looking at the document, Kenya clearly acknowledges the effects of climate change to the country and estimates the losses originating from climate related effects to be 3% of the country’s GDP. Kenya also states that the country’s estimated emissions stands at a mere 73 MTCo2eq in 2010 with 75% being from land use and land change something that can be explained by the reliance on wood fuel. Waste from industries contributed a negligible amount which is contrary to the situation in the developed counties.
Kenya’s INDC includes both Mitigation and Adaptation components which it has clearly outlined. Under mitigation measures, the country will do the following:
Under mitigation efforts the Kenyan INDC named the following:
In addition to these measures, Kenya has clearly stated that it believes that historical responsibilities and ability to face climate change should be considered. This was one of the more contentious issues raising a debate of whether developed countries should contribute for the part they played in emitting greenhouse gases something that most developing countries would agree with.
In Kenya’s case, the country has contributed 0.1% of the total global emissions while per-capita emissions are less than 1.26MtCo2eq compared to the global average of 7.58MtCo2eq and Kenya stresses its commitment to combat climate change. It also states that all countries should undertake mitigation based on differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in accordance with the convention.
As we look to France, the country and the planet hopes for a positive outcome and as Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations said, “There is no plan B because there is no planet B”.