Agenda that should preoccupy Kenya at COP27 climate forum

Members of the public plant tree seedlings during the Kaptagat Forest Annual Tree Planting exercise held at Kaptagat Forest in Elgeyo Marakwet County where 11,000 seedlings were planted on July 23, 2021.  PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

As the COP27 climate meeting opens in Egypt next week, Kenya will be going through a serious famine with some parts having missed two consecutive rains, an occurrence explained as impact of global warming caused by excessive carbon emissions.

As Kenya marshals meager resources to feed the hungry, the industrialised world, which is responsible for about 80 percent of global carbon emissions, is preoccupied with its own geopolitics and economic woes.

It is this climate unfairness that is likely to preoccupy participants from the Global South at the COP27. I believe Kenya should instead focus on tens of possibilities and opportunities offered by the global climate dilemma, by crafting socioeconomic policies, strategies and action plans that align with climate paths that the world is walking.

There is plenty of multilateral, bilateral, and private capital out there that is looking for practical and bankable green projects and solutions in developing and climate-vulnerable countries. Harvesting this capital is what our team at COP27 should be focusing on.

Despite the ongoing global noise and geopolitics about how much fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) the world should produce and consume, global energy markets and technologies are already on an irreversible journey out of fossil fuels. Kenya should therefore plan an energy destiny that is defined by reducing quantities of fossil fuels for power generation, transportation, industrial and domestic heating, whether the fuels are imported or locally produced.

Any new energy project in Kenya should be subjected to this review, while guarding against undue influence from internal and external vested interests. Those fossil fuels (oil and coal) already in the ground are unlikely to marshal sufficient investor interest and capital, and these may end up remaining underground.

Should Kenya plan to import natural gas from Tanzania, it should have an escape clause to allow Kenya out of the agreement at the right time in the future. Even the cooking gas (LPG) has a finite life as reduced crude oil refining will diminish supplies. The ultimate clean cooking solution should be affordable electricity from renewable sources.

It is encouraging to see National Climate Action domiciled in the Office of the President, for indeed this is where to get energy strategies prioritised and coordinated. A ready quick win for city counties is electrified urban transport systems on public-private partnerships (PPP) funding models.

In respect of the four billion trees to be planted, this should be planned carefully to maximise commercial forestry and agro-forestry, both public and private, to provide direct socioeconomic benefits.

George Wachira is a petroleum consultant, [email protected]

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