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What can other African countries learn from Kenya’s Climate Action Plan?


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Kenya recently submitted its Climate Action Plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), targeting a 30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The climate action plan was submitted just hours ahead of US President Barack Obama’s official visit to Nairobi, making Kenya the fourth African country to formally announce their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs) after Gabon, Ethiopia and Morocco.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) which produced a handbook to support African practitioners to draw up their climate action plans welcomes Kenya’s INDC submission ahead of the October 2015 deadline.
PACJA’s guide on the INDCs urges African countries to outline the international support necessary to implement proposed domestic actions for mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage. It also offers guidance on how countries’ plans should reinforce an equitable global deal which caters for the needs of Africa’s people suffering the impacts of climate change.

Kenya’s timely climate action plan underlines its commitment to continue playing a leadership role in addressing climate change by communicating a fair and ambitious contribution. PACJA has analysed Kenya’s INDCs submission and highlights the following areas:

Contributing to a new climate deal in Paris

Kenya’s climate action submission comes well ahead of new universal climate change agreement which will be reached at the UN climate conference in Paris, in December this year. Kenya’s submission is in response to the UNFCCC call for invited Parties to communicate their INDCs, with the objective of fulfilling Article 2 of the Convention.

In their plan, Kenya reiterates the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) acknowledging the different capacities of countries to cope with climate change. This is welcomed and aligns with Africa’s CSO position as outlined in PACJA’s INDCs handbook.

“Kenya places a high priority on response to climate change. In order to meet the below 2oC objective, all countries will need to undertake mitigation based on the Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and respective capabilities in accordance with the Convention,” states Kenya’s INDC document.

A missed opportunity

The position of African civil society has been to keep the global temperature target well below 1.5oC. The Kenyan INDC refers to the limit as 2oC.

Kenya could have included ‘general conditions’ in her INDCs and it presents a missed opportunity to request that developed countries make mitigation, adaptation, finance technology development and transfer commitments in the pre-2020 period. The practice of making conditional offers has been used effectively by developed countries in the UN climate change negotiations. A number of developed country parties, for instance, make their offers to reduce emissions by 2020 based on the conditions of certain actions to be taken by developing countries e.g.  agreement of a comprehensive new climate treaty or full implementation by developed countries of their commitments relating to finance, technology and capacity pursuant to Article 4 of the Convention.

Confirming the commitment to low-carbon development pathway

Kenya proposed 30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in line with her vision to transform Kenya to a middle-income economy by 2030. This unconditional emission reduction is a step in the right direction to attain ambitious mitigation action that leads to deep global emission reductions as proposed by the IPCC.

Among the low carbon development plans Kenya has proposed are expansion in: geothermal, solar and wind energy production, other renewables and clean energy options; low carbon and efficient transportation systems; clean energy technologies to reduce overreliance on wood fuels; Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in line with the National CSA Framework; and achieving a tree cover of at least 10% of the land area of Kenya.

More often than not, mitigation measures seek to reduce the pollution that causes climate change. Kenya’s climate action plan could have highlighted the specific measures it will undertake to change patterns of those consumption and production behaviours which lead to unequal energy consumption. Specific policies are needed to bring public, affordable, accessible and quality energy to people living in a country where a significant majority is yet to access electricity.

The adaptation component

With Kenya bearing the brunt of climate change impacts and the associated socioeconomic losses, the INDC represents Kenya’s aspiration to increase its resilience to climate change. It intends to do this by introducing a comprehensive programme for adaptation action across sectors in support of livelihoods, and economic well-being of the Kenyan people.

Kenya has taken a huge step by developing a National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP 2013), and the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) which ensures mainstreaming of climate change adaptation into the Medium Term Plans (MTPs) and implementing adaptation actions.

Proposals on ‘Loss and Damage’

Compensation measures for Loss and Damage are missing from the climate action plan. Kenya should have included the Warsaw Mechanism on Loss and Damage focusing on provisions to address the rights and needs of climate displaced people and for managing risk.

Proposals on ‘Finance’

The provision of climate finance is fundamental to secure sufficient resources are allocated to tackling the climate crisis; on the basis of justice and that ‘climate debt’ is repaid by those most responsible for causing climate change.

With the INDCs factoring in both mitigation and adaptation components, it is estimated that over USD 40 billion is required for this implementation. Kenya has clearly stated it would require climate finance support in order to meet these goals.

“Kenya believes that the key factors in determining the fairness of a contribution should include historical responsibility and respective capability to address climate change,” reads part of the statement. “Kenya will require international support in form of finance, investment, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building to fully realise the intended contribution.’’
This statement clearly aligns with Africa’s civil society position.

Next Step
With Kenya’s submission, the tempo has been set for other African countries to follow suit and draw up their climate action plans ahead of the extended deadline. There will be an assessment phase to review and possibly adjust plans before the COP 21 Climate Summit. As a result, there may be room for a few adjustments to strengthen it. This is all in the hope that the INDC-based system which reflects a shift towards a more bottom-up approach to global climate policy will be one we can constructively build on, avoiding the sense of failure that followed COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009.


African Civil Society’s view


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