SPEECH BY HON. PETER KENNETH, MGH, MP. ASSISTANT MINISTER OF STATE FOR PLANNING, NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND VISION 2030 DURING THE LAUNCH OF THE STREET DANCE! 300 YOUTH DANCING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE JUSTICE AT UNITED NATIONS AVENUE, GIGIRI, NAIROBI, 12 TH AUGUST 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honour and privilege for me to have been requested to address this event at which our youth have provided a musical performance and demanded â€˜Climate Change Justice Now'. Indeed, most of the major reform movements in the world have began with strong convictions among the youth, who tend to see the world differently compared to their parents. In my view, the demands we hear from our youth today deserve to be taken most seriously. This could be the beginning of a strong movement demanding justice in dealing with climate change in future.
Climate change has in the recent years elicited a lot of attention at both local and international levels. It is considered to be one of the most serious threats to sustainable development globally; and while the world is, in one way or another, suffering the effects of climate change, addressing the problem has proven to be exceedingly complex. But it is an issue we cannot avoid. We can right now see the disastrous effect of drought in the Horn of Africa. Millions are suffering!
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Climate change originates from the ozone layer depletion as a result of the release of greenhouse gases, and from the decline in afforestation worldwide and it affects all of us â€“ developed and developing countries. Consequences of climate change such as intense flooding, droughts, hurricanes rise in sea â€“ levels, heat waves, and degraded air quality have both directly and indirectly affected all of humanity. Some of the smaller islands on earth now fear total disappearance under the water, and from the maps of the world.
Our national development blueprint, the Kenya Vision 2030 cautions that disasters of climate change could slow down Kenya's projected economic growth for two main reasons. â€œFirst, the economy is heavily dependent on climate-sensitive sectors, such as agriculture, tourism and coastal zones. Second, the means to cope with climate hazards is weak' and must be strengthened. On one hand, climate change can reverse most of the gains made in economic development while on the other hand, industrialisation, if not properly managed, can lead to increased carbon emissions in the atmosphere. We are planning to avoid both extremes.
Our country is still at risk in many ways. Changing climate conditions have seen the melting of snows on Mt. Kenya, from 18 glaciers in 1900 to only 7 this year. The impact has been the decline in water levels in Athi and Tana Rivers and subsequent interruption in electricity generation.
Over 70 per cent of natural disasters affecting Kenya today are weather-related. Periodic floods and droughts have caused major macro-economic costs that have impacted negatively on our economic growth. The debilitating drought I just referred to as well as power rationing have already had devastating impacts. The loss of livestock alone this year has been estimated at more than Kshs 64 billion. Food prices have been rising as a result of shortages on the supply side and diversion of crucial resources to mitigate the effects of the drought. This is likely to erode the gains made in achieving the development goals set out in the Kenya Vision 2030 and the Millennium Development Goals. Indeed, it is estimated that the annual economic burden of these events could be about $0.5 billion per year, which is equivalent to around 2 % of GDP.
Ladies and gentlemen
The impacts that we are already experiencing as a country call for high creativity in policy interventions to deal with climate change. Unprecedented measures need to be undertaken to reduce the direct and indirect impacts since there is a high possibility that the severe changes will be more intense in future. We must pursue integrated water management, diversify and adopt renewable energy in electricity sector and more efficient use of biomass as well as proper management of resources and the environment.
Most recently, the Government has accelerated the drive towards uptake of green energy in the country. KenGen has already pioneered the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project which aims at generating green energy projects. One of the projects, the Olkaria II Geothermal Expansion Project has already earned the company millions of shillings from the World Bank for sale of carbon credits. We are also tapping wind based energy in Turkana and at Ngong, in addition to expanding usage of solar energy. These are indeed welcome interventions which requires up-scaling and replication.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Turning the focus to us who are gathered here, especially the youth; we are aware and perhaps experiencing the challenges and devastating impacts that climate change has on our socioeconomic wellbeing if no actions are taken. Our youth do not want to inherit a country ruined by adversities of climate change. We are also aware that the consequences of our inaction in addressing climate change could be catastrophic over the next 20 to 30 years. As youth, you have both the greatest stake in the future and the greatest responsibility in ensuring that that future is protected today. We share and respect your concern.
It is therefore imperative, that you be as concerned as you are. You have no choice because it is your future and the future of our country that is at stake. As youth, you can start by making a commitment to cut down emissions at a personal level. You could, for example: promote lower emissions by improving your vehicle efficiency or cutting down on driving through use of alternative forms of transport; consume more of products manufactured in an environmentally-friendly way; manage power use at home or workplace or reduce your waste by re-using or recycling where necessary.
Our youth should also form lobby groups to continuously engage with policymakers and decision-making processes in your community, national or even international platforms on the need for integrating climate change risks into development policies and practices. You must ensure that policy approaches aim at disaster risk reduction as opposed to disaster response.
You can equally, lobby the private sector to support, promote and uphold use of cleaner technologies and green industrial processes. In this regard, you have a wider array of mediums you can use for lobbing including social networks, art, music, sports and mobile telephony among others. All you need is a little innovativeness, and we encourage you to act now.
It is your responsibility, as an informed youth, to educate and involve peers and the entire community in raising general awareness on climate change and the need for political and personal action. You can mobilize youth groups to undertake direct action measures such as afforestation and reforestation and take advantage of carbon trading through the CDM, which I have already alluded to. You can also influence the government, through its various funds, and the private sector, through their corporate social investment schemes, to support the youth to undertake such initiatives.
Ladies and gentlemen
As the country that hosts the global headquarters of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), we in Kenya bear a special responsibility to lead, in word and action, in supporting initiatives to mitigate the impact of climate change world over. It is important to note that while Africa is recognised as the continent that is most vulnerable to climate change impacts, it is only responsible for just three percent of the greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere.
Nonetheless, Kenya and the rest of Africa have the obligation to institute comprehensive measures to considerably reduce their emission of greenhouse gases, to extend forest cover and to educate our public on why we must act now, not in the future. At the same time, developed country governments should offer financial and technical support to developing countries to adapt and mitigate against negative impacts of climate change.
Against this backdrop, Kenya has rendered support to the call for climate change justice at the COP17-Durban 2011 UN Conference on Climate Change. We reiterate the demands that the world leaders must: One, commit to a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate agreement; Two, set clear short and long term targets for carbon emission reductions that keep average global temperature increases well below 1.5 degrees centigrade; and, Three, ensure there is adequate finance for adaptation in Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me to conclude by applauding the initiators of the Youth Climate Change Justice Campaign â€“ We Have Faith for creatively thinking of a vehicle with which to involve the youth in addressing climate change issues. Young people have the enthusiasm, the creativity and abundant energy to undertake local actions, act as effective communicators in their communities and be involved in international arenas. Let us not forget that climate change is real and is here!!
With this remarks, it is my pleasure and honour to declare Youth Climate Change Justice Campaign â€“ We Have Faith officially launched.
Thank you and God Bless.