November, 2021, was a very essential month in climate change matters to the whole world and specifically to Kenya. This is because the month saw two major climate conferences, that is, United Nation’s global climate convention which was held in Glasgow under the Conference of Parties series, this being the 26th. Second was our very own 7th and final Annual Devolution Conference whose main theme was Multi- level governance for climate action and a sub- theme of sub- national mobilization in unlocking the full potential of climate action during and after pandemics.
Kenya was represented at COP26 by the president, H.E Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, who led a team of government delegates and also addressed the congregation. Kenya, as a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention made significant contributions towards the convention, whose some of the key actions included:
Keeping the rise of global average temperature to 1.5 degrees above pre- industrial levels.Strengthening the ability to adopt to climate change and build resilience.Aligning all finance flows with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development.
Less than two weeks after this convention, Kenya became the first country to hold a country- based conference, which again was a follow- up to the convention. With the themes pointed out earlier in this article, Kenya was seen giving its contribution towards achievement of the convention’s action points.
In a move to healing its immediate environment, President Uhuru, in his speech during official opening of the conference stated that 62 billion dollars is required by Kenya to meet its COP Nationally Determined Contribution Framework. He further stated that 13% of these funds will be locally sourced while 87% will be sought from international contributions.
However, aside from all the big words, the situation on the ground begs to differ. First and foremost, having the devolution in a place like Makueni, where there is drought was a commendable step. During his speech, Makueni senator Hon. Mutula Kilonzo Jr. stated the Athi River is the most polluted water source in Kenya and that as a country we have allowed the polluters to get away with it.
Kenya being ranked as the 31st most vulnerable country to climate change, it is evident that farmers need to be mobilised as entry points for climate action initiatives as they play a crucial role and are also affected greatly by climate change.
In a briefing, Mark Masai, NTV’s presenter reporting on the devolution conference stated that after discussions with the people from Makueni, most of them admitted to not knowing what importance the climate themed conference was to them. However, they admitted that they were experiencing very serious heat surges, compared to before, something that is a direct impact of climate change.
However, it is a beacon of hope that out of the 47 counties, 33 have already passed the climate change bill and are already making efforts towards enactment of the bill through initiatives such as tree planting and reclamation of green urban spaces. The only gap that needs to be filled is for the multi level governments to ensure that they speak the language of the mwananchi, and help them understand climate change and how it affects them. With this, we will all be on the same page.