Climate Change (134)

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Kenya is a global player often leading part in various international discussions linked to the pressing issues of climate change and sustainable development.

The country has its long-term development blueprint’s social, political and economic pillars (Vision 2030) aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2016, Kenya also ratified the Paris Agreement and submitted a very ambitious commitment of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by the year 2030.

In the end, however, success in achieving Vision 2030, the SDGs and living up to the commitments of the Paris Agreement will require a transition to a more equal, socially just, and ecologically sustainable economic model. This model would also have to consider global trends such as digitalisation and automation, which will a profound impact on the kind of jobs that Kenya will create in order to position itself competitively within the region and globally.
Climate change crisis and the transition to low carbon, climate-resilient future

In its climate change policies, plans, and programmes and as part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement, Kenya aims to achieve a low carbon, climate-resilient development pathway. Both the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement and the SDGs emphasize the inevitability of a shift toward a sustainable, net zero-carbon future for all. One of the country’s climate change mitigation strategies is to expand geothermal, solar, wind energy, and other renewable and clean energy options, to align its development agenda with the aspirations of the frameworks. The energy sector, for example, is a key economic driver and it is also responsible for contributing a significant proportion of the carbon emissions, and therefore must be at the centre of such an extensive shift.

Kenya has promising potential for power generation from renewable energy sources as the installed capacity consists of 70%  renewable  sources, with enormous potential to expand that base. The abundant sources of solar, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal resources have led the government to seek the expansion of renewable energy generation. The expansion will lead to vast disruptions owing to the need for technological transformation and also to account for changes in use of resources such as land. One of the major challenges the country will face is that of enabling a low carbon economy that delivers poverty reduction and climate resilience simultaneously. Although this presents a social and technical challenge of staggering proportions, thinking about who sets the terms of transition raises key political questions about the role of actors, interests, and institutions as they seek to advance competing energy pathways and associated technologies.

In July, 2019, the country launched one of Africa’s biggest wind power plant in Loiyangalani, Turkana that will deliver 310 megawatts of renewable energy to the national grid, effectively slashing power costs for consumers. By 2030, the goal is to expand geothermal power production to 5,530 megawatts (or 26% of total capacity), making it Kenya's largest source of clean energy. This transition will also come with new energy technologies and it is also expected that renewable energy jobs will significantly increase. At present, unemployment is a major problem in the country and it will be important to invest in both jobs and skills training to enable Kenyans to tap into the growing investments from the renewable energy sector.

Despite the huge potential of renewable energy, non-renewable energy sources, including the Lamu Coal Plant are also being explored. In August, 2019 the country also joined the league of oil-exporting countries, owing to the conclusion of 200,000 barrels at a price of Kenya shillings 1.2 billion ($12m). The Lamu coal plant was halted by the national environmental tribunal in June, 2019 on the grounds that a proper environment impact assessment study was not carried out. Amu Power, the company constructing the Lamu coal plant says its goal is to, “improve the lives of the communities in Lamu County through; employment creation, infrastructure development, upskilling of the youth and the provision of affordable energy generated from coal power” but what is the value of the project given the negative environmental and social implications it will lead to? Environmental groups deemed the ruling as a success on the pursuit to stop ‘dirty’ energy investments, however, there needs to be a bigger conversation on the political economy of the energy sector and the socioeconomic viability in line with the country’s climate ambition and pursuit for low carbon development pathway.

The agricultural sector remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy and contributes directly to 24% of the GDP and 27% indirectly, making it an important contributor to Kenya’s economy and food security as well as in providing employment for rural and urban households. Over 50% of export earnings in Kenya come from agriculture which is also the largest employer contributing to 60% of total employment in the country. Another important thing to note is that 80% of the rural population in Kenya rely on agriculture. It is a fundamental pillar of the Kenyan economy but over the years there has been no stability in the agricultural sector. The sector has been affected by unstable prices, climate change, and income inequalities in the value chain among other issues. With the climate crisis causing recurrent droughts, changing rainfall patterns, and increasing temperatures, definitely the future of the agricultural sector has to be re-thought especially in livelihoods provision and security of jobs in the sector.

The Kenyan economy is now hugely driven by an informal service/retail sector and still relies to a significant extent on agriculture which is essentially run by smallholder farm family labour, who earn no or insignificant wages. Climate variability and change have adversely affected the agricultural sector and the situation is expected to worsen in the future. This poses a concern as a key driver of the economy which may result to huge food and job losses. In rethinking the future of the sector, various changes are expected including rapid changes in technology.

With climate change impacting critical economic sectors, the current economic growth path in Kenya leads to a widening gap between the poor and rich. Unless Kenya can significantly include inequality reduction strategies in its development agenda and bring along the millions of people currently working in insecure informal employment, achieving its development targets linked to the SDGs will be challenging. It is therefore important to link actions on SDG 13: climate action to SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all and; SDG 10 reducing inequality within and among countries requires countries to address inequalities. 

 Pursuing a Just Transition for Kenya

Just Transition refers to a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative and socially just economy. Bringing justice to economic transition processes in Kenya is possible if preventive and strategic action is taken and if economic, social and climate change adaptation policies are designed in a way that they adequately take into consideration the needs and rights of those people who are most vulnerable. For just transition to work, economic development has to be connected to the climate justice dimension.

Kenya is pursuing its low carbon development pathway through different interventions including mainstreaming climate change actions into its development plans as well as the domestication of international obligations such as the Paris agreement, SDGs among others. This transition to a cleaner, more sustainable economy must, therefore, be economically and socially just, fair for people and their communities. A just transition means a complete package of sustainable policies and social programs that will allow the majority of the population to benefit from change, rather than bearing its costs. This means going beyond providing a reliable system of social protection and compensation to those who will be affected to bringing economic life into a social and democratic framework.

With the expected changes in the different sectors it is important to look at the kind of jobs created and whether they are equitable and decent. What kind of wages and social protection will the employees in the sectors get? Which parts of the workforce would be affected? What kind of skills will be required to enable Kenyans to tap into the opportunities coming with new technologies or growth trends? Some changes in the different sectors will come with rapid advances in digital technology and global trends of the automation which are changing the global economy. It will be important for Kenya to rethink what digitalization and automation will mean for its potential integration into global supply chains and as a consequence which jobs can be created in Kenya.

Realizing SDG’s and Paris Agreement obligations Realizing the targets and indicators under the SDG’s as well as its commitment under the Paris Agreement, Kenya has made efforts in localizing the frameworks to fit within its national and local development contexts. In the Kenyan case, the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) could be conceptualized as tools for localizing the implementation of the two frameworks. While the frameworks are there, what is needed is a broader debate on the necessary steps towards a just transition in Kenya.

MADRID, Spain (PAMACC News) - As the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) enters its fifth day, representatives from a global coalition delivered a resounding call to governments to hold polluting industries liable and make them pay for the damage they’ve knowingly caused and for real climate solutions.

The call comes just two months after the coalition was launched at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York City. Participating organizations and signatories hail from more than 63 countries including Bolivia, The Philippines, and Nigeria.

Fossil fuel industry liability is a growing area of focus for climate experts, academics and governments alike as the industry’s long history of denial and the link between industry emissions and climate impacts becomes more evidenced. From U.S. states to Vanuatu to Peru, elected officials and people are exploring holding the fossil fuel industry liable for its long history of deceit and environmental destruction.

Earlier this year, the European Parliament held a hearing investigating Exxon’s attempts to mislead the public. The Philippines’ commission on human rights is considering the fossil fuel industry’s responsibility for human rights violations in connection to climate change. And in Peru, a farmer is suing a German utility for its role in the crisis harming his livelihood.   

In the United States, the climate plans of numerous presidential candidates include taking steps to hold the industry liable. And industry attempts to preempt accountability at the city and national level have consistent failed to gain support. A landmark case against Exxon Mobil in New York State is expected to be decided in the next few weeks.

 “People and governments are already taking steps to hold Big Polluters like the fossil fuel industry liable around the world. The next step is for decisionmakers, including those at the UNFCCC, to get on board and hold polluting industries liable for the damage they've knowingly caused, and use the finance to fund the real solutions the world needs,”,” said Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability, “Big Polluters are most responsible for this crisis and must be made to pay for the damages, loss of life, and climate doubt their operations have knowingly created.”

“The world’s climate culprits are increasingly being brought to court, signaling the beginning of a global boom in climate justice,” said Jean Su, energy director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The evidence can’t be any clearer that big polluters have known their dirty fossil fuels are cooking the planet. We’re urging all world leaders to hold these corporations accountable once and for all.”  

“This year’s climate talks are a crucial opportunity to hold polluting industries accountable for the climate crisis, especially the 100 fossil fuel companies that are responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Citizens around the world are rising up to demand climate action, to demand an end to the immense suffering global temperatures are already causing in the Global South. The dirty fossil fuel party is over,” said Harjeet Singh, Global Lead on Climate Change for ActionAid International.

“The fossil fuel industry must take full responsibility for the climate change crisis. There is no alternative to cutting down emission at source and the time is now,” said Philip Jakpor of Environmental Rights Action.
"At every COP, we address governments as it is they who possess the political power to act on and address the climate emergency. But an important matter we are demanding them to do is to regulate the policies, behavior and operations of corporations.
One of the urgent things that corporations must do is to pay reparations for the huge damage they have caused for so many decades. But not pay so they will be able to continue business as usual and pollute even more. We have to make them pay for the many years of abuse, for the many decades of exploitation of resources for their operations, and for the enormous costs of suffering that we from the South have historically endured," said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development.
 “Indigenous Peoples as all of humanity suffer massive and gross violations of their rights by the continuation of fossil fuel emissions. Those directly responsible must exercise some morality and look to their future generations as well as ours,and the continuation of life on Mother Earth as we know it and take immediate steps to stop their emissions at source,” said Alberto Saldamando of Indigenous Environmental Network.
"Some of the biggest and dirtiest corporations on the planet are a huge contributor to the climate crisis. We will stand up to those who are
destroying the planet and harming communities with impunity. We will push for a transformation of our energy, transport, food and economic systems,” said Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate Justice and Energy program coordinator at Friends of the Earth International.

“We are in the midst of a global crime scene where millions are being assaulted by unprecedented levels of climate violence. But those destroying the lives and livelihoods of innocent people are not nameless or faceless thugs. The names of these climate criminals are well known - they are big polluting industries whose thirst for profit is destroying people & planet. They must be brought to justice and held liable for the crisis they have caused.” Asad Rehman, Executive Director, War on Want

“For decades, Big Polluters have gone to any lengths to block, weaken and delay policy. That time is over. They need to pay for the real solutions and be held liable for their years of abuse.” -Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory.

MADRID, Spain2 (PAMACC News) – African civil society organisations are pressing for a decision at the Chile Climate Change Summit taking place in Madrid, Spain, (COP 25) that recognizes the special circumstances and needs of the continent, which is among the hardest hit and the least prepared for the adverse impacts of climate change.

Among other things, current projections show that the continent will warm 1.5 times faster than the global mean. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed in its Special Report that parts of Africa are already experiencing 2-degreewarming, higher than 1.50as previously estimated. Regions in Africa within 15 degrees of the equator are projected to experience an increase in hot nights as well as longer and more frequent heatwaves, according to the UNFCCC Secretariat.

Climate change impacts will, therefore, affect Africa more than every other region of the world, even if ambitious targets to limit global mean temperature rise at 2 or 1.5 degrees are met. This raises a justice and equity question since Africa only contributes less than 4% of global emissions and does not benefit from the resources of the energy-intensive economic development typical of rich countries.

“We cannot be treated like other regions,”says Dr Mithika Mwenda, Executive Director of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, the leading voice on climate justice in Africa. “Without substantial support, Africa will not only be unable to cope with the devastation of climate change but will be unable to contribute its share in addressing the problem.”

Demands for a special status for Africa first emerged in 2015 during COP 21 in Paris, where African ministers of environment tabled the issue for considerations unsuccessfully. Informal consultations continued until COP24in Katowice, Poland, last year.The question of a special status for Africa is finally on the COP 25 agenda.

“We believe this is a great opportunity to recognize that Africa is a special case requiring special attention to enable us collectively deal with the climate emergency,” says Augustine B. Njamnshi, chair of the political committee at PACJA. “We call on parties to take a decision recognising these special circumstances and the needs that go with them in terms of finance, emergency response and technology development. Recognising the special circumstances and hence special needs of Africa will lead to finding solutions to ensure that Africa has the support it needs to effectively implement the Paris Agreement.”  

Africa’s demand to be considered as a special case is supported by science, says Prof Seth Osafo, legal adviser of the president of the African Group of Negotiators.

“The IPCC special report [2018] identifies clearly that Africa continues to be the most vulnerable region to the impacts of climate change. Last year, the cyclone (Idai) that hit southeast Africa caused serious destructions and the affected countries (Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe) and still suffering as a result of this.

“Floods have increased in many parts of Africa and weather patterns have completely changed. We believe that Africa needs support, not only in terms of money but also technology, to deal with these issues and contribute to meeting the global target for addressing climate change.”

In a position statement, African CSOs also called on rich countries to step up climate action through enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to levels commensurate with the current estimates of the severity of the climate emergency and urgency of needed action.

The UNFCCC secretariat expects COP25 to be a “launchpad for significantly more climate ambition.” Current commitments, particularly from rich countries, fall short of the level of emission cuts required to slow global warming and avert a climate breakdown.

“The New York Climate Summit was revealing in many regards,” PACJA said in a position statement.  “It did not only show that the smaller developing countries are determined to contribute to the fight against climate change, but that they are even willing to do more (sacrificially) to make sure that climate change remains in the multilateral space and top on the agenda.

“Seventy or so countries that have indicated their willingness to enhance their ambition are mostly small or medium countries. This suggests that the big emitters have still not come to the table with their enhanced commitments.”

Other positions adopted in Madrid today include a call for robust and environmental guidelines for international cooperation and carbon markets; a review of the Warsaw international mechanism on loss and damage to have a clear means of implementation, especially for emergency response in Africa; and a demand for scaled-up finance and capacity building to meet the climate change adaptation challenge the continent faces.

Hoping to influence negotiations at multiple levels, African CSOs also asked for the adoption of common time-frames for a harmonious evaluation of NDCs and pay special attention to the gender undertones of climate action.

Press statement

It is now official: Chile will not host COP25. In a speech on Wednesday, President Sebastian Piñera blamed a fortnight of civil unrest for the 11th hour cancelation.

The fallouts that led to Chile’s withdrawal from hosting COP25 have been immediate. The UNFCCC is now in a frantic search for an alternative venue. Across the world, governments and other actors of the global climate change movement are grappling with logistical headaches. It is the first time a host has pulled the plugs on a major climate change gathering. In every sense, the organisational challenges that will beset the coming weeks will be huge, widespread and will leave long-terms consequences.

It also creates a leadership crisis. Chile plans to continue chairing COP25 despite not hosting the summit. If the UNFCCC eventually finds a new venue, as it would likely do, it would take exceptional leadership to coordinate between Chile, the new host and the UNFCCC Secretariat. Even then, COP25 would, at best, be cast in the shadow of the Chilean crisis and the consequences of its last-minute change of heart.

The cancellation of Santiago 2019 was to be expected. Chile’s ongoing political unrests are the worst in nearly two decades. Transport infrastructure has been severely damaged in Santiago and there are no signs that the security situation in the country will improve significantly to host thousands of delegates to the climate change summit. Even then, rumours of this eventuality began spreading during SB50 in Bonn, Germany last June . With little prevision, the chaos caused by the last-minute withdrawal could have been minimised.

President Piñera has demonstrated a lack of foresight in his management of the COP25 chairmanship. Only last week, he was still adamant that the country would host the climate summit, as well as the Asia Pacific Economic Forum. Yet, it now appears no plans were made to deal with a damaged transport system in Santiago and the obvious logistical and security challenges of hosting thousands of people from around the world.

This will be a huge loss for Chile. The choice of Santiago to host the COP25 seemed sensible in many ways. Until the recent unrests, Chile was one of the most stable countries in Latin America. It was a significantly better option to Brazil, which had just elected a climate change-denier and fiercely right-wing President. Chile was preferred over Costa Rica on the assumption that it had a better capacity to deal with the huge logistical challenges that come with hosting a COP. In the end, it is these assumptions that have helped expose the precarity of Chilean politics.

We believe attention should now turn to President Piñera’s handling of the ongoing crisis and its fallouts. Respecting the rights of citizens is fundamental to our collective effort to address climate change and the range of intertwined challenges that now face humanity. We can no longer have governments that cannot assure the rights of its people at the helm of global climate change negotiations. Clearly, Chile cannot manage this magnitude of an event. Not now!

As an organisation that promotes just climate action, it is our view that the United Nations should now take the opportunity to thoroughly investigate claims of human rights abuses by Chile’s security forces since the protests over fare hikes started. Right now, the country seems to be falling from the cliff on all human development indicators.

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