Kenya needs $62 billion over the next decade for its newly released climate mitigation and adaptation plan as part of its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris climate agreement.
The country’s ministry of environment and forestry said in a letter that the country’s greenhouse gas emissions can fall by 32% by 2030 if the plan is fully enacted.
Kenya says that it can mobilize 13% of the funds needed, but other countries will have to provide the additional revenue. While this might seem like an unreasonable request, it’s actually a central dynamic of the Paris climate agreement. Wealthy nations are supposed to provide $100 billion annually to low-income countries to help them adapt to and mitigate a crisis that they played little role in creating.
Kenya is responsible for just 0.1% of global emissions, yet it already faces enormous climate risks.
In recent years, the country has struggled with recurring and extreme droughts, as well as inconsistent rainfall caused by changing weather patterns. These droughts have caused widespread food shortages. By 2030, temperatures in Kenya may rise up to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The country’s letter to the United Nations outlining its NDCs describes its precarious state.
“Over 84% of Kenya’s land area is arid and semi-arid, with poor infrastructure and other developmental challenges, leaving less than 16% of the land area to support over 80% of the population,” it reads. “The Kenyan economy is dependent on climate-sensitive sectors, such as rain-fed agriculture, water, energy, tourism, wildlife, and health, whose vulnerability is increased by climate change.”
Worsening floods are also a major problem. In 2018, a flood displaced 230,000 people, forced 700 schools to close, and destroyed 8,500 hectares of cropland, according to the letter.
Sea level rise, the letter notes, is expected to impact up to 86,000 people annually, displacing people from their homes, eroding coastal areas and degrading wetlands. Kenya’s glaciers are expected to vanish in 30 years because of rising temperatures, which threatens a river that supplies 60% of the country’s hydropower.
Roughly 15% of Kenyans lack access to reliable electricity. The country has considered tapping its vast reserves of coal and natural gas to bring electricity to the entire population, but is reluctant to unleash the inevitable environmental consequences, the letter says.
Governments can help Kenya fully transition to renewable energy by funding the country’s climate plan. Climate activists say that the global community has an obligation to fund the worldwide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions because of the interconnected nature of climate change.
As countries seek to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenya’s letter offers a blueprint for how to structure a green economic recovery.
Kenya’s ministry of environment and forestry said that the country plans to expand renewable energy access, increase tree cover throughout the country, halt land degradation, improve waste management, scale up nature-based solutions, invest in low-carbon transportation, and “harness the blue economy” through its marine resources.