By Collins Oduor
African countries’ recovery plans, stimulus packages and budgetary allocations must right the wrongs of the 25th Conference of Parties to boost the continent’s health and livelihoods resilience for enhanced economies.
Despite the high expectations, the 25th Conference of Parties (COP) firmed no concrete action on boosting the resilience of the most predisposed to the impacts of climate change – African Countries. “I am disappointed with the results of COP25. The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis. But we must not give up, and I will not give up. I am more determined than ever to work for 2020 to be the year in which all countries commit to do what science tells us to reach carbon neutrality in 2050 and a no more than 1.5 degree temperature rise”. These were the words of the UN Secretary General António Guterres after the conclusion of the failed global negotiations on climate crisis in Madrid, Spain in 2019.
As if the failed negotiations were not enough, 2020 saw the outbreak of the deadly corona virus halting almost every sector from operation. The results, coupled with the already existing vulnerability of the continent to the impacts of climate change, have seen shrinking economies, increased household level vulnerability as a result of loss of and limited jobs as well as stressed ecosystems and biodiversity – mostly as a result of deforestation and poaching. Surely, we are living in tough times requiring very thoughtful yet rapid response to enhance both health and livelihoods resilience for enhanced economies amidst the new normal, which is estimated to dent Africa’s already stagnant economies by billions (almost half of Africa’s GDP) of shillings by the Economic Commission of African (ECA).
Amidst the increasing challenges, the disruption of global supply systems have helped identify the existent potential of the African continent and countries to activate key sectors of their economies for sustenance. Currently, Kenya for instance, besides making available slightly over Sh53 billion for her economic stimulus programme, recently, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, unveiled the Government’s spending plan of about Sh2.1 trillion for the next financial year, anchored on the President Uhuru Kenyatta - championed Big Four agenda and outlined avenues to financing the budget as well as the tax measures taken.
While this is a commendable job done by the Treasury, the big question is the level of commitment the proposed budget is to acting locally – in supporting livelihoods of the Kenyan Citizens, while influencing internationally, especially as far as the elephant in the room – climate crisis – is concerned. In the budget; for instance; there is a proposed tax on the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and solar equipment and accessories. While there might have been an analysis of this by the Cabinet Secretary, the introduced tax on these two may not align with our target of 100 per cent transition to green energy by 2020 to address the climate change challenge as envisioned by the President.
While this is just one case, there are quite a few cases we can draw from the budget for amendment to ensure Kenya’s commitment to climate action is firmed, health and livelihoods resilience are boosted and economy aspired to grow amidst the prevailing challenges for the benefit of other African countries.
- The writer is an environment enthusiast and a project officer at PACJA