Kenya has been experiencing extreme weather events like floods and droughts over the past couple of years.
It is no mystery why this has been happening. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal has intensified climate change and the resultant extreme weather events.
Ironically, as the world is struggling to limit greenhouse emissions to halt the catastrophic climate crisis, the Kenyan government is actively pursuing the development of coal-powered plant in Lamu and establishment of the coal mining industry in Kitui.
Fossil fuels such as coal when burned produce carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas. When released into the atmosphere, carbon dioxide works like a blanket, warming the earth above normal limits.
Unfortunately, if the fossil fuel industry, public policy and decision-makers are not forced to make significant changes, we are on course to increase global average temperatures by up to four-degree Celsius by the end of the century.
Science cautions of devastating consequences with the increase of global earth temperature by two degree Celsius. This means, getting past two degree Celsius would be disastrous.
It would substantially exacerbate water scarcity in many regions, a grave concern for many to date and increase the risks for food production, potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates and hunger, with many dry regions becoming dryer and sea-levels rising.
It could also lead to increased extreme weather events such as floods; unprecedented heat waves especially in the tropics; increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones and irreversible loss of biodiversity.
Developing economies such as Kenya and many other African countries will be among the regions that will suffer, with disparities between the developed world and Africa becoming even more apparent.
In Kenya, the good news is that communities are standing up against the fossil fuel industries and against government plans that are pro-fossil fuels.
Students, religious leaders, community groups, women and children are raising their voices and urging governments to consider the facts of a climate crisis and drop ambitions for fossil fuels.
Save Lamu, a small community organisation, has been on the forefront leading the fight against the development of a coal-powered plant, while the Centre for Human Rights and Civil Education is leading the fight against coal mining in Kitui. Joined by various partners, these two community groups are leading a movement to ‘deCOALonise’ Kenya and save children’s future.
Not long ago, the communities in Lamu had an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Licence for the proposed coal power plant cancelled by the National Environment Tribunal.
The Lamu communities had challenged the issuance of the ESIA Licence to Amu Power Company Limited, the consortium that has the government backing to build the proposed 1,050MW Lamu Coal Power Plant by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema). This fight lives on.
Young people who are anxious about what their future looks like in a world that is failing to stall the climate crisis are organising and taking action.
It is important that we talk about the proposed Lamu coal power plant and the Kitui coal mining to safeguard the future of generations.
In this time of climate crisis, a new era of activism has emerged to confront one of the greatest challenges of our time. The once hypothetical and debated impacts of global warming are now increasingly palpable and recognised across the planet.
This is a defining moment of our fight against climate change. In response to this realisation of an accelerating ecological breakdown, people are reaching out across the globe in solidarity and resolve in the race to save our future.
Climate change and the resultant impacts such as severe droughts and floods have never received the required urgency from our leaders.
Abandoning ambitions for fossil fuels is necessary for survival. It is important that mass movements emulate what communities in Lamu and Kitui are doing.
Climate action could provide a rare catalyst to attain the desired future that allows both humans and our planet to thrive.
Amos Wemanya Greenpeace Africa Campaigner.