Kenya Leaps into setting its Emission Reduction Targets

Photo credit: Pete Souza, 2015 

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions  (INDCs)  is the new buzz word for member states of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).   The member states are preparing for the 21st conference of parties meeting in Paris, France later this year.  INDCs are proposed post-2020 climate actions that countries publicly declare to implement, in order to assist in limiting the earth’s temperature rise to 2 degrees centigrade.

Kenya has once again proven to be a leader by becoming the fourth African state to publicly declare its INDCs, which appear to be largely attainable. This was echoed by the current President of the United States of America – Mr. Barack Obama, during his Kenya visit on June 25th 2015, by stating,

“I also want to commend Kenya, a leader in clean energy,  for announcing its post-2020 target to limit carbon emissions as part of our fight against climate change”.

Kenya has declared that it seeks to undertake an ambitious mitigation contribution towards the 2015 agreement by abating its GHG emissions by 30% by 2030, relative to the business-as-usual scenario of 143 MtCO2eq (Metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent); and in line with its sustainable development agenda. Kenya’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are relatively low, standing at 73 MtCO2eq in 2010, out of which 75% is from  land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and agriculture sectors. This may be explained by the reliance on wood fuel by a large proportion of the population coupled with the increasing demand for agricultural land and urban development.1

The decision for member states of the UNFCCC to develop INDCs came up during the 19th conference of parties meeting in Warsaw in 2013 and was firmed up in Lima, Peru in 2014 during the 20th conference of parties. The overarching goal of these INDCs is to create a platform on which a new international climate agreement can be negotiated and agreed upon by countries across the globe. Yes – this includes the United States of America too – as they too have sought to develop targets for their emission reductions focusing primarily on their energy sector.

The other significant emissions are from the energy and transport sectors, with the waste and industrial processes contributing negligible amounts, Kenya strives to be a newly industrialized middle-income country by 2030. This development is expected to increase emissions from the energy sector. The current energy mix, however, is mainly clean with deliberate effort by the Government towards enhancing geothermal, wind, solar and other renewable energy development.

INDCs will largely determine whether the world achieves an ambitious 2015 agreement and is put on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. Many other countries are expected to communicate their INDCs before October 2015. The new targets set by Kenya are an indicator that the country is serious about making a positive contribution in reducing its carbon footprint both nationally and globally. And as President Obama stated during his African visit, while in Kenya -

“We have not inherited this land from our forebears, we have borrowed it from our children”, an absolute statement that sums up sustainability – in all our actions.