House moves to protect Kenya's environment

Wednesday August 11 2010

FILE | NATION. Kenya's Parliament has taken cue from the electorate following the ‘Green’ win in the referendum, and is now asking the Government to enact green policies to protect the environment.

FILE | NATION. Kenya's Parliament has taken cue from the electorate following the ‘Green’ win in the referendum, and is now asking the Government to enact green policies to protect the environment. 

By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU

Kenya's Parliament is asking the Government to enact green policies to protect the environment.

The unanimous decision came from the House on Wednesday morning as MPs approved a motion calling on the Government to develop emission standards, curb pollution and combat climate change.

Mr Chachu Ganya (North Horr, ODM) took the climate change battle to the House with a call on the government to put a “clean and secure environment” on the forefront, even as it trudges towards the country’s development roadmap, the Kenya Vision 2030.

Mr Ganya said, the development envisioned in the next 20 years was “bound to generate high pollution and accumulation of toxic waste, and greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.”

Dr Wilbur Otichillo (Emuhaya, ODM) and assistant minister Lee Kinyanjui backed the motion saying it was time the Government put the push for a “green economy” at the core of the development agenda.

Buoyed by his experience in Europe, Dr Otichillo proposed that the government can also build subways and introduce trams and electric trains as an alternative to the pollution from the exhaust fumes from vehicles.

“If you go to the Netherlands, most people go to work using bicycles. This reduces pollution. But here in Kenya, there’s so much carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere due to the huge traffic jams in our city,” he said. “The issue of pollution is causing a lot of health problems. Cases of respiratory illnesses are just too many and the main culprit is the transport sector. We have to act now.”

Carbon Tax

The MP said the government can also introduce carbon tax so that “those whose vehicles and factories contribute most to pollution” are forced to pay for the dangers they are exposing the country to. He said the city has to be demarcated into “traffic zones” so that it is easier to manage pollution from vehicles. To enforce this, he said, car stickers will be essential.

The management of electronic waste – from computers, mobile phones, TV sets, radios and such — also surfaced in the debate, with MPs saying it was important to look at how this are disposed of.

“We need to introduce a policy whereby people are forced to share cars, to pool cars,” Dr Otichillo said.

MPs also pushed for solar, biogas and wind energy as alternatives to the diesel and petrol engines used in factories and other manufacturing plants.

Ms Rachel Shebesh (nominated, ODM) said the government had to involve the people in the climate change debate.

“So far, the debate has been technical and restricted to boardrooms and conferences. We need to enlighten our citizens,” she said. “It is about time that the government clearly spells out the role of each ministry in climate change. The world is going green, there are green economies, we can’t expect all data on climate change in one ministry. We need a central command to advise all ministries.”

Mr Eugene Wamalwa (Saboti, PNU) said MPs ought to put the government on toes when it comes curbing the importation of old vehicles and nabbing unroadworthy vehicles.