The Climate Change Act 2016, was a timely law that was passed at a period when Kenya is experiencing the adverse effects of climate change. The Act was passed is May 2016, although the regulations operationalizing the Act are yet to be developed. There has been a cyclical series of drought in Kenya which is a clear indication of the effects of climate change. Currently about two million Kenyans are suffering the effects of drought. Red Cross Kenya has indicated that unless the government is able to avert the continued effects of the drought then the number is expected to go higher.
As much as the Climate Change Act 2016 was delayed, it was timely and especially with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which have bold and clear targets that relate to climate change. The act offers an opportunity for social entrepreneur’s working around climate change mitigation to have a voice through the provisions of the Act. At the same time, there will be a law that will make it easier to prosecute climate change related offenses and also a law that will be a pillar to the efforts of the many social entrepreneurs that are working towards mitigating the effects of climate change. The Climate Change Act also gives footing to the Environment and Land Court (ELC) which has the jurisdiction to handle matters relating to climate change.
The Act provides for the creation of the National Climate Change Council which should be headed by the President. However, since the enactment of the law in May last year, the council has not been constituted which only means that the issues that are supposed to be advanced by the council are yet to be discussed. There is an opportunity for the stakeholders in the climate change field to question the laxity of the government in the operationalization of the act despite it having provisions that would be fundamental in handling climate change especially presently.
Part of the membership of the council should be the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA). It is important that the entrepreneurs working around climate change ensure that they are in associations and are part of KEPSA to ensure that they have a chance of being nominated to the council especially with the specialization in the area. It is the membership of entrepreneurs in the Climate change council that will give them the opportunity to voice the needs of the industry players.
Part of the mandate of the council is to provide policy direction on research and training on climate change. Climate change is a complex subject and by the government taking up the responsibility to build the capacity of the industry players through research and training, this will be a stepping stone to making the Kenyan Climate Change players an authority internationally on matters climate change.
A directorate responsible for climate change will be created and will be housed at the ministry that will be responsible for climate change. Among other things the directorate will be responsible for managing a registry for the appropriate mitigation actions by the public and private entities and this would be an opportunity for the KCIC clients to collaborate with the directorate to ensure their climate change projects are documented and are part of the knowledge and information documents that the directorate houses. The KCIC clients can also take this as an opportunity to make the directorate aware of the activities that they are involved in which may be contributing towards international obligations on climate change.
The Climate Change Act 2016 requires that the public is involved in the development and review of the Climate Change Action Plan.
As the current climate change action plan comes to an end this year, the government should be in the process of reviewing it. This would be an opportunity for the KCIC clients and the organization to get involved in the review which would give them an opportunity to voice their concerns and recommendations. These will be useful for the next climate change action plan. The development of the action plan should be done through expert consultation in climate change amongst other related fields like economics. KCIC clients by virtue of having been involved in climate change responsive initiatives have created some level of expertise which would be a useful resource for the development of the Climate Change Action Plan.
As a requirement of the Act and more importantly the Constitution, the public engagement in the development of policy, strategies and laws is mandatory. It is therefore the responsibility of the players in climate change to ensure that there is participatory communication when there are issues of interest under climate change being discussed. The Climate Change Fund which shall be the mechanism for funding priority climate change actions and interventions shall be made available in form of grants for research on climate change issues.
The Act has also provided for incentives that are geared towards encouraging innovations that are centered on climate change mitigation. This is an opportunity for KCIC clients to be on the lookout for these opportunities like the ones on carbon emission.
Climate change is an international agenda and every stakeholder must take an active role in the mitigation of the effects of climate change. The Climate Change Act 2016 is a step in the right direction for Kenya but the realization of the mile stones that have been envisioned by the Act have to be the effort of every stakeholder through taking responsibility as indicated by the Act.