Although its greenhouse gas emission footprint is miniscule, Kenya’s parliament has decided that it will join the global effort to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and is in the process of enacting a law that will curb the emission of greenhouse gasses.
Thanks to British-based Azuri Technologies, Alexander Muyekhi and his choldren, a construction worker from Ebubayi village, which is in the heart of Vihiga County in Western Kenya, can now reap the benefits of solar lighting and FM radio.
Earlier the family used to be dependent on kerosene lit tin-lamps, which are not only dim but also unhealthy smoke. Many residents of the village though are not as lucky as Alexander Muyekhi and his family since they cannot shell out 1000 shillings, approximately 10 dollars, which is the deposit for the kit.
“Such climate-friendly kits are very important, particularly for the rural poor. But for families who survive on less than a dollar per day, it becomes a tall order for them to pay the required deposit, as well as the weekly instalments,” said Philip Kilonzo, Technical Advisor for Natural Resources & Livelihoods at ActionAid International Kenya.
“Once it [Climate Change Bill] becomes law, we will deliberately use it as a legal instrument to reduce or exempt taxes on such climate-friendly gadgets and on projects that are geared towards low carbon growth,” said Dr Wilbur Ottichilo, Kenyan MP.
It was because of such bottlenecks that Dr Wilbur Ottichilo, who happens to be a member of parliament for the Emuhaya constituency in Western Kenya, as well as the chair of the Parliamentary Network on Renewable Energy and Climate Change, moved Climate Change Bill in parliament. Thanks to this motion, various issues have come forth and have been discussed. Subject to public scrutiny before becoming law.
“Once it becomes law, we will deliberately use it as a legal instrument to reduce or exempt taxes on such climate-friendly gadgets and on projects that are geared towards low carbon growth,” said Ottichilo.
Kenya’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emission is significantly low. It has however taken on bold measures to further reduce its greenhouse gas footprint by drafting a National Climate Change Framework Policy, through which it aims to bring about a significant number of developments which will positively impact its emission levels.
It is increasingly partnering with developed countries so as to maximise its geothermal potentials in the energy sector. It is also making rapid progress in its transportation sector, agroforestry and the agricultural sector.
“With a legal framework in place, it will be possible to increase such projects that are geared towards mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change,” said Ottichilo.
“We received the Bill from the National Assembly towards the end of March, we studied it for possible amendments, and we subjected it to public scrutiny as required by the constitution before it was read in the senate for the second time on Jul. 22, 2015,” said Ekwee Ethuro, Speaker of the Senate.
“After this, we are going to return it to the National Assembly so that it can be forwarded to the president for signing it into law.”
This bill however was first rejected by its former President, Mwai Kibaki on the grounds that there had been a lack of public involvement in its creation. That is why, “We are very careful this time not to repeat the same mistake,” explained Ethuro.
As per law, a National Climate Change Council is to be set up which, among other things, will coordinate the formulation of multi-level action plans, including at the national and county levels. It will formulate strategies as well as policies and make them available to the public.
“This law is a very important tool for civil society and all other players because it will give us an opportunity to manage and even fund-raise for climate change adaptation and mitigation projects,” said, John Kioli, chair of the Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG).
Climate change in Kenya is already happening, the country is experiencing prolonged droughts, landslides, floods, unreliable rainfall patterns, and many such effects which experts say will worsen with time. To make the situation even worse, 83% of Kenya’s landmass is either arid or semi-arid. This makes it even more vulnerable to climate change.
“We seek to embrace climate-friendly food production systems such as use of greenhouses, we need to minimise post-harvest losses and food wastages, and we need to adapt to new climate friendly technologies. All these will work very well for us once we have a supporting legal environment,” ” said Ottichilo.