18TH JANUARY 2018 BY JOSEPH KIPKOECH
The ‘Bonn- Fiji Commitment’ (UNFCCC 23rd conference of the parties, popularly referred to as COP 23), underscored the important role of dealing with climate change.
The COP, which was presided over by the Republic of Fiji and held in Bonn, pledged the commitment of local and regional government leaders to deliver on the Paris Agreement by increasing climate ambition, forging new coalitions, and encouraging action from civil society, businesses and peers in cities and regions.
Kenya’s devolved system of government means that counties have the potential to be Kenya’s hotspots for climate action, and they should not ignore the international call for action. Under the law, county governments are required to mainstream climate change action in all their functions. They are also to develop County Integrated Development Plan and County Sectoral Plans in line with the Climate Change Act, 2016 and the National Climate Change Action Plan. Each County is mandated to have a County Executive Committee Member designated as the coordinator of the County’s climate change affairs.
Makueni County, for example, has passed the Makueni County Climate Change Fund Regulations, making the county the first in Kenya to establish a county climate change fund. The fund provides a mechanism for the county to access funding for climate change activities from its budget as well as other sources, to meet local community needs and interests.
Other counties are following suit with plans underway for enactment of similar legislation. To adequately tackle climate change from the ground up in line with the Bonn- Fiji Commitment, counties should be clear on their goals and be strategic in the measures they devise to both combat climate change and meet their sustainable goals.
There is also a need for the creation of platforms that allow for the sharing of county initiatives and experiences, for enhanced collaboration throughout the country. COP 23 also brought out the potential for high impact climate friendly action not just by states and cities, but also by businesses.
In Kenya, there are efforts to businesses to businesses to undertake energy efficiency and conservation as well as invest in renewable energy technologies for the generation of electricity. Interesting developments include the construction of Africa’s largest solar car park at Garden City Mall, as well as the generation of solar energy by educational institutions such as Kenyatta University and Strathmore University. There are also businesses dedicated to clean technologies in the agribusiness and water sectors, such as those with projects incubated in the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre.
The gap discernible in climate change activities and commitments demonstrates that there is room for further and more diverse climate –friendly action by business, with both national and county governments creating an appropriate enabling environment.