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Uhuru urges world leaders to respond fast to climate change

Tuesday September 24 2019
Ouru-UN

President Uhuru Kenyatta receives a bouquet of flowers from 11-year-old Emma Karani when he arrived in New York for the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. PHOTO | PSCU

By ANGELA OKETCH

New York,

President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged world leaders to adopt climate change adaptations if they are to secure future generations and expand economic opportunities.

The President, speaking on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), echoed the sentiments of the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres who said the fight against climate change is a race we are losing but one we can win.

President Kenyatta enumerated steps the government has taken to address the crisis, saying Kenya is fully committed to the fight against climate change.

DECLINING RAINFALL

“Our commitment to tackling climate change is deep and arises out of the need to secure our future and that of our children as we have been victims of droughts and declining rainfall, which have destroyed our lives and livelihoods,” he told the delegates.

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He said Kenya has taken deliberate steps towards meeting its international climate obligations in sectors such as energy, environment and the blue economy.

“In energy, we have transitioned our energy sources to renewables to the tune of 90 per cent. I recently inaugurated our largest wind power farm on the continent at Lake Turkana and we shall continue to prioritise our energy developments from geothermal and other natural sources,” President Kenyatta said. He said renewable sources have enabled Kenya to expand electricity connectivity from less than 30 per cent in 2013 to 75 per cent over the past six years.

At the high-level engagement on Climate Action Summit, Mr Guterres took the leaders head-on, warning them to think outside the box before the situation worsens.

“The ticket to enter today’s (Monday’s) summit is not a beautiful speech, but a concrete plan. Governments, cities, businesses and many more are here to present their commitments for a green future for all. Acting together, we will leave no one behind,” he stated.

TACKLE EMISSIONS

He added: “Pressure is building. Momentum is growing. And action by action, the tide is turning. I will not be a silent witness to the crime of dooming our present and destroying young people’s right to a sustainable future,” he said.

Experts at the summit warned that causes and impacts of climate change are accelerating.

“Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have increased at a higher rate between 2015-2019 than in the previous five years, and are on track to reach a record 410 parts per million in 2019,” data  from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has shown.

The warning from the WMO forms part of a “united in science” review for a UN climate action summit at which countries are being urged to increase their ambition to tackle emissions.

GREENHOUSE GASES

The report shows the time between 2015 and 2019 was the hottest five-year period on record. The world has warmed by 1.1 degrees since pre-industrial times, and by 0.2 degrees compared to the previous five-year period 2011-2015.

And with levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases rising quickly than before, to new highs in the atmosphere, further warming is already locked in, the WMO warned.

Extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases the greenhouse effect.

 More thermal energy is trapped by the atmosphere, causing the planet to become warmer than it would be naturally.

This increase in the Earth's temperature has been given the term global warming.

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