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Efforts must be made to address climate change and ensure a green future

Tuesday December 10 2019

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech during a reception by the royal family for delegates attending the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 at the Royal Palace in Madrid, on December 2, 2019. PHOTO | AFP

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech during a reception by the royal family for delegates attending the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 at the Royal Palace in Madrid, on December 2, 2019. PHOTO | AFP 

GICHU KIHORO
By GICHU KIHORO
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It is that time of the year again. No, not the holiday season. I am speaking about the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is currently being held, for the 25th time, in Madrid, Spain.

Of course, African nations have an increased interest in the international climate conferences. For ultimately, it is us that are currently paying the price for it. We Africans are the hardest hit by the ramifications of climate change such as desertification and rising sea-levels. And in Kenya specifically, we have felt the deadly impact of the uptick in violent flooding that has taken place over the past few years.

OUR DESTINY

This is all the more frustrating as Africa’s part in the output of carbon dioxide emissions is much below that of the USA, China or the European nations.

But there is no point in decrying our unjust fate. Instead, we have to act. And an international, multilateral event like the Climate Change Conference is the perfect stage for those affected to hold the polluting states accountable and to ensure that the burden of a changing global climate is equally and justly distributed between the rich and poor nations of the world.

Yet, I do not believe that we should leave our future in the hands of others. Judging from history, the global community hasn’t always been the kindest to us. And thus, we can’t now place all of our hopes for a better future in their hands. We have to become truly independent and take control of our own destiny.

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We should be proud that already, 85 percent of our energy is being produced from renewable sources. Before leaving for his well-deserved retirement, President Uhuru Kenyatta is working hard on a legacy that will ensure that the most important topics will also be dealt with by his successor, whoever he (or she) might be.

TRANSPARENCY

His main tool for building this legacy is the recently presented Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report. In it, we find a wide array of issues, all of which are important for our future, such as a more just political representation, more transparency and support for the fight against corruption. Much of the coverage has focussed on this angle of the report.

However, also included are passages that address a different, yet no less important topic: sustainability. In Chapter Three of the report, the authors demand to “respect and sustain our environment as a bequest which we received and will impart to future generations.”

Later on, in Chapter Seven, the following imperative is inked down: “Secure future generations from unsustainable debt and environmental destruction by utilising genuine and transparent public participation — through the proposed Office of the Public Participation Rapporteur — to balance the need for greater economic growth with the need to protect our environment and biodiversity for future generations.”

NAYSAYERS

These passages give me hope. It seems that no crucial topic for a better Kenya has been forgotten. It seems that the BBI was really guided – and only guided – by a common mission to improve our lives. It seems that all the naysayers of the past few months weren’t sincere in their criticism - and perhaps were guided by ulterior motives.

I believe that everybody should find the time to read the report in its entirety. Once you understand its true motives and goals, you will be hard-pressed to find a reason to not support its recommendations. They are the optimal path to the future we all desire, for ourselves and for our children.

Mr Kihoro is a research and data expert.  kihoro[email protected]

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