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Kenya advocating for the nexus between climate change and security

by Grace Kisembo

At the United Nations Security Council, President Uhuru Kenyatta told world leaders that Kenya will be a steadfast champion of the interests of African countries and the entire Global South on climate change (UNSC).

Kenya will focus on making a “compelling case for the nexus between climate change and security,” according to the President, who noted that the phenomenon is “escalating and complicating new and old conflicts around the world.”

President Kenyatta urged world leaders to take “bold mitigation and adaptation measures” to avert a looming climate crisis, citing recent scientific evidence that pointed to a catastrophe.

“The evidence is irrefutable. All the reports, including the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, sound a loud alarm that the world risks facing a global catastrophe unless leaders shift gears on climate change. We need to urgently implement bold mitigation and adaptation measures to avert the looming crisis,” President Kenyatta cautioned.

The Kenyan Head of State spoke on Monday afternoon in Glasgow, Scotland where he delivered Kenya’s national statement at the World Leaders Summit of the ongoing 26th United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) being co-hosted by the United Kingdom (UK) and Italy.

At the meeting also attended by the world’s greatest marathoner of all time, Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, the President said climate change was an existential threat to most African countries pointing out that extreme weather costs Kenya an average of 5% of its GDP besides fuelling food shortages and livelihood conflicts in the country.

“In Kenya, extreme weather events including floods and droughts, leading to losses of 3 – 5% of our GDP annually. Further, they aggravate food insecurity and trigger divisive intra-community and inter-country competition for resources,” he said.

Once again, President Kenyatta, who arrived in the Scottish capital on Sunday evening, reminded developed countries to fulfil the 100 billion US dollars per year funding pledge for climate change adaptation programmes in developing countries.

“Two times in a row, developing countries have been promised the US $100 billion per year but it has not yet been delivered,” President Kenyatta said, adding that Kenya expects COP26 to come up with a work plan for implementing the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

“Finally, we expect that detailed rules and procedures for implementing the Paris Agreement will be finalised, and a clear way forward for a climate-resilient pathway set. We also expect that the agreement will be sufficiently inclusive to accommodate the needs and priorities of developing countries and in particular, the special circumstances of Africa which have been very ably put forward earlier and very well-articulated by Elizabeth Wathuti,” the President said, about an earlier presentation by Kenyan environmentalist and climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti.

President Kenyatta challenged developed nations to invest more in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and regretted that Africa’s proposal on special needs and circumstances was dropped from the COP26 agenda.

“Throughout Africa as the most vulnerable continent to the impacts of climate change, countries are already experiencing loss and damage of an increasing magnitude and frequency.

“We are therefore deeply concerned to hear that yesterday during the adoption of the agenda of this conference, the item on the special needs and circumstances of Africa was yet again not adopted.

“We expect the Co-President to undertake extensive and comprehensive consultations and address the special needs and circumstances of African States and indeed report to us before the close of the session of the conference,” the President said.

On Kenya’s climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts, President Kenyatta said the country was implementing a robust climate change strategy that had seen it invest heavily in sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable blue economy and green manufacturing.

“The plan includes a commitment to restore degraded water towers, accelerate forest restoration and increase tree cover to at least 10 per cent of our land area, promote a sustainable blue economy and green manufacturing.

“As many of you know, Kenya is a pacesetter in the energy sector. We are among the top eight (8) global leaders in geothermal power development and home to the largest wind power project in Africa,” President Kenyatta said.

In his address, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on world leaders to act with speed on climate change warning that a failure to contain rising atmospheric temperatures would lead to the submerging of several cities due to rising sea levels.

Mr Johnson agreed with President Kenyatta that COP26 was a historic turning point that the world must seize to avert a global climate catastrophe.

“It is one minute to midnight and we need to act now. If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow,” the British PM said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guteress cautioned world leaders that failure to act decisively on climate change would be disastrous for humanity.

“Either we stop it or it stops us. It is time to say enough. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature as a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our graves,” Mr Guteress said.

US President Joe Biden, whose country rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement early this year after withdrawing from the pact in 2020, echoed other world leaders saying the Glasgow meeting was “a rare opportunity for all leaders to work together and save humanity from the existential threat of climate challenge”.

“We are in a growing catastrophe, I believe there is an incredible opportunity not just for the US but for all of us. We are standing at an inflexion point of world history,” President Biden as he called for collective global efforts to tackle the challenge.

“Climate change is the challenge of our collective lifetimes—the existential threat to human existence as we know it. And every day we delay, the cost of inaction increases.

“This is a decisive decade. We can keep the goal of 1.5 degrees centigrade if we come together if we commit to doing our part. Glasgow must be a kick-off of a decade of ambition. No nation can wall itself from the threats,” the US leader said.

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