Climate Change (95)

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) – It is a rainy season in Kenya, and the environment in many parts of the country including dryland areas is generally green. But two months ago in Kyenire village, Mbeere Sub-county of Embu in Eastern Kenya, it was Venanzio Njiru’s two acre farm that stood out as the only green spot surrounded by environment with dry grass and shrubs with brown leaves running into the horizon.

However, rainfall is for a short season in this part of the country because after it subsides towards the end of May as predicted by the Kenya Meteorological Department, residents may soon be subjected to another dry spell that may last between one and three years without the precious drops.

“This is how it has always been, hence a reason why I had adopt a smart way of surviving,” said Njiru, who has now invested in Climate Smart Agriculture through permaculture.

Using water piped from Thosi River some 10 kilometres away, the former street hawker in Mombasa has a mosaic of different types of crops that include cover crops, leguminous plants, fruit trees, among others intercropped with maize planted in zai-pits and even sugarcane. He also keeps cattle, indigenous chicken, goats, and despite of it being a dryland area, he keeps fish in his water storage ponds.

“Using very simple techniques, Njiru is one of the very few residents in this area who have sufficient food to feed their families, and have more for the market despite the tough climatic conditions,” said Wanjiku Wanjohi of Ishiara Parish, a Catholic church in Embu County.

The Parish is one of the faith based organisations on the ground, which have been interacting with residents especially smallholder farmers to identify best practices that could help in formulating a county climate change policy document that is responsive to the prevailing conditions.

The first ever climate change policy drafting initiative at the county level in Kenya is driven by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) in collaboration with Trocaire, and with support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) where faith based organisations have been collaborating with community based groups and individuals to identify best practices at the grass roots level.

“Clearly, Njiru together with a few others have demonstrated that with access to water for irrigation, residents can easily adapt to climate change, an idea that we thought was an important factor to be included in the county climate change policy,” said Wanjohi.

Development of such policies dominated the annual summit on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in Nairobi, where experts said that that was the only way of scaling up CSA, by moving from pilots to the implementation.

 “We already have enough ideas and innovations. What we lack in many African countries is the implementation framework,” said Dr Richard Mungang, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Africa Regional Climate Change Programme Coordinator.

“We need policies to govern Climate Smart Agriculture, because without policies, there cannot be development,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Richard Kamau the Executive Director at the Centre for Agriculture Networking and Information Sharing at the University of Nairobi, who said that data to guide formulation of such policies should be collected from farmers on the ground. “We also need involvement of the academia, the public sector and all other interested groups,” he said.

According to Edith Ofwona, a Senior Programme Specialist at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), there is evidence to show that CSA can reduce poverty and eradicate hunger, and so, there is need for countries to develop implementation frameworks as the way forward.

So far, following the Kenya’s example, Njiru’s practice has already been anchored in the draft climate change policy document, which urges the county government of Embu to support establishment of water harvesting infrastructure and mobilize community members to undertake household level water harvesting initiatives and interventions.

According to Obed Koringo of PACJA, the document has already been internalized by the county government, and it will soon be taken out for public scrutiny before it is converted into a legal instrument.

“We can only allocate funds for such climate change interventions only if they are anchored in some kind of law,” said Nicholas Ngece, the Chief Officer in charge of Environment at the County Government of Embu.

“Through policies, we will easily have the private sector working together with the public sector and the banking sector so as to stabilize markets and increase financing,” Dr Munang told delegates at the Nairobi CSA summit.

The other two counties that are leading the way in development of community based climate change policy in Kenya are Kitui and Tharaka Nithi Counties, where both are also using faith based organisations to access communities at the grassroots level.

 BONN, Germany, (PAMACC News) - If Paris was historic in carving a global climate deal, Katowice will define the political urgency for climate action.

 Negotiations at the just ended United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, focused on the Paris Agreement Work Programme, under which countries are designing the guidelines that will move the climate pact from concepts to actions.

 The Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, at the concluding session, expressed concern at the lack of urgency in moving the negotiations forward.

 “It is time to look at the bigger picture, see the severe impacts that climate change is having across the world, and rise to the challenge,” said Group Chair, Gebru Jember Endalew.

 He expects steady progress be made throughout 2018 on all issues so that poor and vulnerable countries can engage effectively.

“A last-minute rush at COP24 risks leaving developing countries behind,” he said.

The Paris Rulebook

The Rulebook spells guidelines on how to put the Paris Agreement into practice.

There is a call for a fair, robust and transparent Rulebook that inspires confidence among countries to step up and commit to enhanced national climate targets by 2020.

They are essential for determining whether total world emissions are declining fast enough to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. These include boosting adaptation and limiting the global temperature increase to well below 2°C, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

“I am satisfied that some progress was made here in Bonn. But many voices are underlining the urgency of advancing more rapidly on finalizing the operational guidelines. The package being negotiated is highly technical and complex. We need to put it in place so that the world can monitor progress on climate action,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change.

Progress on Agriculture

Recognizing the urgency of addressing interests in the agriculture sector, the Bonn conference made a significant advance on the “Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture” by adopting a road-map for the next two-and-a-half years.

Farmers are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts such as prolonged droughts and shifting rainfall patterns, and agriculture is an important source of emissions.  

This road-map responds to the world’s farming community of more than 1 billion people and to the 800 million people who live in food-insecure circumstances, mainly in developing countries. It addresses a range of issues including the socio-economic and food-security dimensions of climate change, assessments of adaptation in agriculture, co-benefits and resilience, and livestock management.

But not with Finance…

Without advances in the talks over the commitment of future financial support from rich countries to developing nations, who are already facing devastating climate impacts, it became difficult for other areas of the negotiations to progress.

LDC Group Chair, Gebru Jember Endalew, stated “Finance is key to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the face of climate change, poor and vulnerable countries are forced to address loss and damage and adapt to a changing climate, all while striving to lift their people out of poverty without repeating the mistakes of an economy built on fossil fuels. This is not possible without predictable and sustainable support."

Civil society also expressed some dissatisfaction with the finance dialogue.

“The radio silence on money has sown fears among poor countries that their wealthier counterparts are not serious about honouring their promises. This funding is not just a bargaining chip, it is essential for delivering the national plans that make up the Paris Agreement,” said Mohamed Adow, International Climate Lead, Christian Aid.
“For the Paris Agreement to be a success, we need the Katowice COP to be a success. And for the Katowice COP to be a success we need assurances that sources of funding will be coming.”

The Talanoa Dialogue

The Fijian Presidency of COP23 launched the Talanoa Dialogue to spur an outcome for enhanced ambition at the end of this year at COP24.

The first global conversation about efforts to combat climate change was witnessed on Sunday, May 6, at the 2018 Bonn Climate Talks.

The dialogue wrote history when countries and non-Party stakeholders including cities, businesses, investors and regions engaged in interactive story-telling for the first time.

The dialogue witnessed some 250 participants sharing more than 700 stories of climate struggle and inspiration, providing fresh ideas and renewed determination to raise ambition.

Seven groups, known as “Talanoas”, took part in the informal Talanoa tradition of sharing stories to find solutions for the common good. Participants discussed three central questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?

The Dialogue has the goal of taking stock of collective efforts towards progress on the Paris Agreement’s long-term mitigation goal. It will also inform the preparation of parties’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the second round of which are expected in 2020.

“Now is the time for action. Now is the time to commit to making the decisions the world must make. We must complete the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement on time. And we must ensure that the Talanoa Dialogue leads to more ambition in our climate action plans,” said Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji and President of COP23.

Talanoa inspires discussion between countries not as negotiating blocs but as one of people to people. But it is important that this is translated into a clear political process.

The Polish Presidency must take up the baton from the Fiji Presidency and work with all countries towards a political outcome for stronger national targets by 2020.

Political Action in Katowice

All input received to date and up to 29 October 2018 will feed into the Talanoa Dialogue’s second but more political phase at COP24.

To be meaningful, the Talanoa Dialogue “must deliver concrete outcomes that drive an increase in ambition and support to put us on track to achieving the 1.5 degree temperature goal set in Paris, guided by equity and science," said Mr. Endalew.

Talks resume in Bangkok from September 3-8 where negotiators will pick up “informal notes” forwarded by this session. They will attempt to turn these notes and various inputs from countries into the basis for a negotiating text ahead of COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

“The science is clear: we need to get into higher gear to reach Paris goals and we need to have the courage to go beyond traditional politics. Meeting in the middle is no option this time,” said Marcel Beukeboom, Climate Envoy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

A stronger political leadership remains critical to achieve the major milestones envisaged for COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

The UN Climate Change talks are an integral part of a broader, worldwide debate on climate change.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

“The time for stories has long since passed,” said Meena Raman of Third World Network. “We live in a world with over 1℃ warming and the devastation is already severe. We cannot allow for that warming to go beyond 1.5℃ and we need a political process to prevent that.”

ISINYA, Kenya (PAMACC News) - After losing nearly all of his cattle to drought in 2017, David Ole Maapia, a young Maasai man who grew up in Kenya’s Kajiado County as a herdsboy is one of many residents from pastoralist communities who are slowly changing their way of living, to adapt to the changing climatic conditions in the country.

“It is already raining, and there will be plenty of pastures in the coming months. But following my experience last year, and also what happened to my neighbours, I can no longer keep cattle for more than a day,” said Ole Maapia, a resident of Isinya Township, 56 kilometres out of Nairobi City. “Instead, I have chosen to bank all my wealth in sheep and goats,” he said.

The 32 year old father of five children lost 48 cattle following last year’s dry spell. And for the past six months, he has been buying cattle almost every day, have them slaughtered the same day before supplying meat to designated hotels in Nairobi. He then uses the profit to purchase at least two or three goats every market day.

I already have more than 200 goats and sheep, and I know by December, I will have over 1000,” he said. “If I sell all of them during the festive Christmas period, I will have enough money to purchase a small piece of land within Isinya Township where I intend to construct commercial houses as an alternative source of livelihood,” he said.

Many other residents have as well abandoned cattle keeping, which has for many years been considered the most prestigious thing among pastoralist communities.

Though without any formal education, Ole Maapia’s switch in lifestyle conforms with key findings from a new scientific study in Kenya, which shows that cattle have been the most vulnerable animals to climate change in nearly all the 21 semi arid counties in the country.

According to the study conducted by scientists from the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) with support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), through a project known as Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE), average cattle population in all semi arid counties reduced by 26 percent between the year 1977 and 2016.

But the same study, whose key findings are currently being disseminated to targeted counties reveals that the population in sheep and goats increased by an impressive 76 percent in the same period, with camel population also increasing by 13 percent.

“This is a clear impact of climate change,” Dr Mohammed Said, one of the lead researchers told Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We say it is climate change because in the past 50 years, we observed increase in temperatures in all the counties with five of them recording more than 1.5°C increase in the same period,” he said.

The most affected county, says the scientist, is Turkana, whose temperature increased by 1.8°C in the past 50 years, leading to over 60 percent decrease in cattle population in the past 38 years.

According to the scientists, a research scientist, cattle can thrive well if average temperatures do not surpass 30oC and should not be below 10oC. But small animals like sheep and goats, and also camels can tolerate warmer temperatures, hence the reason why they were able to multiply exponentially in the wake of the rising temperatures.

“It is true that goats and sheep survived the 2017 dry-spell, and that’s why many people are now selling the remaining cattle stock to invest in animals that have proven to be strong enough for such tough conditions,” said Ole Maapia.

The Paris Agreement on climate change calls for international interventions to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

At a county government level, four neighbouring semi arid counties in the country have come up with an initiative known as the ‘AMAYA Triangle.’  The County governments of Laikipia, Baringo, Isiolo and Samburu are now working together to address climate change so as to avoid resource based conflicts which are always associated with droughts.

Following massive deaths of cattle during extreme droughts, the counties are already establishing feedlots and fodder banks to help in fattening the most impacted animals, as a way of adapting to climate change, according to Laikipia Deputy Governor Hon. John Mwaniki.

“Climate change does not recognise boundaries. And so, if we solve a climate change related problem in Laikipia for example, without addressing the same problem in the neighbouring counties, then we will be creating a platform for conflicts among the residents,” said Hon. Mwaniki.

80 percent of beef eaten in Kenya comes from local pastoralist’s communities, and also from Uganda and Tanzania pastoralists. But with the rising temperatures, Dr Said feels that the most affected counties should begin investing in sheep, goat and camel value chains as a way of adhering to the prevailing conditions.

“The only way counties can adapt is by using such scientific projections to identify possible future scenarios and capture it in their spatial plans, because the current conditions are likely not going to be the same in the next 10 years,” he said.

BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - A popular slogan with climate activists in global climate negotiations is "kick polluters out". But fossil fuel companies are still welcome at the UN climate talks.

The influence of the fossil fuel industry and other polluting industries has become a central topic of concern for governments.

The issue of conflicts of interest and how to best ensure the integrity of the UNFCCC process once again dominated the climate talks in Bonn, Germany as governments launched what is meant to be a formative year for climate policy.

Talks on developing a conflict of interest policy ended with a mandate to talk more next time.

The African Group, Ecuador and Cuba and the Africa group had advocated such a policy which is opposed by the US, EU, Canada, Norway and Australia.

Both sides have agreed to identify opportunities "to further enhance the openness, transparency, inclusiveness of the effective engagement of non-party stakeholders".

"Once again, the United States and its pro-fossil fuel allies are on the wrong side of history, putting Big Polluters before people and the planet. But today's results prove that no amount of obstruction from the U.S. and its Big Polluter allies will ultimately prevent this movement from advancing.

And while Global North obstructionism mired these talks in delays, obstruction and censorship, Global South leaders prevailed in securing a clear path forward for the conflict of interest movement, ensuring the issue will be front and center next year," said Jesse Bragg of Corporate Accountability.

Delivering the Goals of the Paris Agreement

This year 2018 can make it or break it for climate change as the Paris Agreement passes through its first test.

Front-runner countries and civil society representatives have presented a concrete road-map of how they are enhancing climate plans by 2020 in an attempt to push other states to commit to doing the same at the upcoming UN Climate negotiations (COP24) that will be held in Katowice, Poland.

Countries need to send a clear signal in COP24 that they will enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020 if the goal to keep warming below 1.5C is to be reached.

"I would say that COP24 in Katowice is probably the most critical meeting since Paris," said Alden Meyer, Director, Strategy and Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists. "The world will be watching to see if countries are serious about implementing and strengthening the Paris Agreement. We have a mandate to adopt a package of rules to implement the Paris agreement across a range of issues".

Civil Society Action

A day to the end of the Bonn talks, major civil society and non-party stakeholder groups demanded that government's follow-up the Paris Agreement with increased urgent action to prevent average global warming from rising 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Groups highlighted that Parties must reinforce this Paris Agreement goal and commit to enhanced action as a matter of survival for vulnerable countries.

"For the world's most vulnerable people keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees is not just a 'nice to have', it is essential to ensure they can maintain and improve their way of life," said Mohamed Adow, International Climate Lead at Christian Aid.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) also noted that climate change should no longer be isolated to environmental and scientific issue.

It stated that the issues of poverty, justice, equity, economic, humanitarian, food security and political dimensions of climate change must not be overlooked.

"It has stunted the growth of some economies while big economies fear cutting emissions will affect them," said Olivia Adhiambo, Policy and Advocacy Manager at PACJA.

As the 2020 implementation date of the Paris Agreement draws close, it is expected that big oil and coal interest groups and climate deniers do not succeed in their struggle to undo the progress made in the fight against the climate crisis.

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