By Judith Akolo/PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta is putting pressure on world leaders, from developed nations, to secure legally binding commitments regarding climate change.
The president who joined 150 heads of state and government at the ongoing Conference of Parties (COP21) global climate summit in Paris, France said greenhouse gas emissions have reached the threshold with the net effect of causing irreversible global warming.
The President, in his address to some 150 Heads of State and Government, insisted that developed nations should support developing nations by providing the requisite technology, finance and expertise to enable them mitigate climate change.
The President called on developed economies to be fair in the application of rules governing greenhouse gas emissions.
“We look forward to an ambitious Paris Climate Change Agreement, in accordance with the objective, principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),” the President said.
President Kenyatta is accompanied to the talks by Environment Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judi Wakhungu and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amb. Amina Mohammed.
President Kenyatta told the summit that Kenya was among the first developing nations to submit an ambitious ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, confirming its commitments to reduction of greenhouse gas emission targets.
He said despite the fact that the country contributed a mere 0.1% of the total global emissions, Kenya had pledged to voluntarily take national measures and actions for emission reduction and for enhancing adaptation to climate change.
“Our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution has both adaptation and mitigation components: a sign of our resolve to address mitigation and adaptation on an equal footing,” said President Kenyatta.
He said some of the sector-wide voluntary domestic measures and actions which government had instituted included expansion in geothermal, solar, wind and other renewable and clean energy options.
“Close to two-thirds of our power at present is green. Our 310 megawatt Lake Turkana wind farm will be the biggest such project in Africa,” said the President
The President also spoke about Kenya’s progress towards achieving and maintaining a tree cover of at least 10% of the country’s land area and the introduction and management of low carbon and efficient transportation systems. Currently the country’s tree cover stands at 7.2 percent.
He said Kenya would continue to be guided by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as the primary forum for intergovernmental negotiations on climate change.
He said Kenya supported the incoming COP 21 Presidency’s efforts to achieve a balanced, fair and rules-based agreement to guide climate action beyond 2020 and noted that the agreement should be aligned to the objective, principles and provisions of the Convention, including equity, and common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities.
The objective of Paris Climate Change Summit is to give a strong political momentum to the climate change negotiations, which include the long-term global goal of maintaining the rise in global temperature at below 1.5 degree Celsius.
President Kenyatta and other leaders assured President Francois Hollande that they stood with France following recent terror attacks.
“As a nation similarly affected, we know how you feel. Let me reaffirm our view that to combat terrorism, which is a global problem, requires a global concerted approach and effort,” said President Kenyatta.
Environment CS Prof. Wakhungu received praise from the organizers of COP21 for Kenya’s commitment to ensuring the successful outcome in Paris and Kenya’s campaign in reducing poaching especially of elephant poaching,.
The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon told world leaders that the time for brinksmanship was over and that they should take advantage of the current political momentum to reach consensus.
“I urge you to choose the path of compromise, and of consensus, and if necessary of flexibility,” he said.
During the summit the United States, Canada and nine European countries pledged nearly $250 million to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to rising seas, droughts and other impacts of climate change.
President Kenyatta also held talks with heir to the British throne, Prince Charles on wildlife conservation. Prince Charles has expressed great interest in the conservation of Kenya’s elephants. He has also expressed support for forest conservation.
President Kenyatta at the same time, joined the President of France, Francois Hollande and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi at an event showcasing solar technology.
France has installed solar farms around Paris and other cities in a bid to generate a high percentage of her energy from solar energy.
US President Barrack Obama said fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have occurred since the year 2000, “2015 is on pace to be the warmest year of all. No nation — large or small, wealthy or poor — is immune to what this means,” said Obama.
The US President said the effects of global warming are already manifesting in the sea level rise, noting that in Alaska “the sea is already swallowing villages and eroding shorelines; where permafrost thaws and the tundra burns; where glaciers are melting at a pace unprecedented in modern times.”
He said the US government is investing in clean energy in order to reducing carbon emissions.
“Let’s secure an agreement that builds in ambition, where progress paves the way for regularly updated targets — targets that are not set for each of us but by each of us, taking into account the differences that each nation is facing,” said Obama.
He called for reaffirm commitment that resources will be there for countries willing to do their part to skip the dirty phase of development.