Africa contributes the least to climate change, yet it is bearing the brunt of climate change impacts. Climate change is one of the most complex and cross-cutting environmental problems facing not only Africa but also the world today. It is one of the most touching problems that affect every corner of the planet earth.
The situation particularly becomes more adverse in developing countries, especially in developing countries.
Kenya, being one of the sub-Saharan African countries that are most vulnerable to climate change-induced problems, has suffered from issues such as climate variability and extreme weather events and disasters. This has affected the agriculture sector leading to food insecurity. This becomes a major disaster since a large segment (81%) of the Kenyan population directly or indirectly depends on agriculture to support their livelihoods.
Climate change is a topic that has in the recent past found itself at the top of the international development agenda and at the centre of the world political arena. Working with the rural communities in the Arid and semi-arid parts of Eastern Kenya in addressing various climate change dimensions and enhancing both economic and climate resilience for the last two years, I have learnt a lot in terms of mitigation and adaptation mechanisms to climate change.
Agriculture, especially livestock production, is a major source of greenhouse gases (GHGs) which contribute to the greenhouse effect and climate change. However, the changing climate is having far-reaching impacts on agricultural (crop) production, which are likely to challenge food security in the future.
With a business as usual scenario, climate change is likely to contribute substantially to food insecurity in the future by increasing food prices and reducing food production. Food is likely to become more expensive as climate change mitigation efforts increase energy prices. Water required for food production may become more scarce due to increased crop water consumption and prolonged drought. Competition for land may increase as certain areas become climatically unsuitable for production forcing people to move to more productive areas which in fact are scarce.
Fundamentally, Kenya and indeed Africa faces a lot of development related problems which elicit adverse impacts on all other sectors. Whenever there is a change in climate, the impacts are clearly manifested in the agricultural sector which leads to a massive reduction in productivity. It has also brought an escalating burden to already existing environmental concerns of the country such as deforestation due to fuel needs.
The problems of climate change can be altered to become opportunities that can benefit humanity. For instance, reducing emissions from energy usage in industries by innovating new ways that provide clean energy can bolster development.
As the Paris agreement calls for its implementation, energy consumption is increasing globally as the population keeps on shooting. This shows a better fit to integrate climate change mitigation and public policy in development to adopt clean energy in both residential and commercial areas.
Kenya, for instance, is in the process of investing in non-renewable energy sources that the rest of the world is divesting from such as coal when clearly, there are renewable energy alternatives such as solar and geothermal. The country has a huge potential in geothermal that can be leveraged on to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This calls for a paradigm shift in policies that favour sustainable development.
Therefore, there is a great need to ensure low carbon and climate resilient policy development and its action plan implementation not only in Kenya but also Africa and the world. It’s time to shift talk from corporate responsibility to corporate sustainability because we are the last generation to act to counter the impacts of climate change.