Kenya’s plan to cut pollution by 30 per cent by 2030 is receiving praise ahead of the all-important climate change meeting in December this year, in Paris.
It is hoped that world leaders will reach, for the first time, a legally-binding global climate change deal to stop temperatures rising more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
Such a deal may eventually stop the predicted submersion of Mombasa and other coastal cities in 50 years.
The Paris meeting comes after the November 2013 19th Conference of parties (COP19) in Warsaw, Poland.
The meeting adopted invited countries to initiate domestic preparations for their intended nationally-determined contributions (INDC’s).
The INDC’s are actions that countries propose to take to reduce their carbon emissions ahead of the UN negotiations in Paris.
Kenyan submitted her INDC on July 24.
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities amp; Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg, praised Kenya’s move.
“Kenya’s pledge to reduce carbon by 30% is a great example of how growing countries can build their economies while also reducing the risks they face from climate change. It also highlights the critical role that the private sector plays in helping countries bridge the gap between ambition and action in confronting climate change,” said Bloomberg, who is also the former New York Mayor.
“In the months leading up to Paris, it’s important that cities, national governments, and businesses find ways to direct more private financing to projects that reduce carbon pollution, strengthen infrastructure, and improve people’s lives.”
The INDCs must include information on emissions reductions and invited countries to consider including an adaptation component in their submission.
Developed countries had argued that INDC’s should contain mitigation targets alone and that domestic political circumstances meant it was impossible to provide detailed information on financing commitments well into the future.
But developing nations were concerned that this would lead to a weaker deal in Paris, during the COP21 summit in Paris. They further contended that as well as hindering their own ability to pursue ambitious proposals, these would often depend on the level of international support that they received.
Countries were expected to submit their intended contributions to the Paris deal by end of March this year.
According to Jean-Pierre Poncet, a French diplomat at Unesco, only 44 out of 196 nations have submitted their INDC’s. Only four out of 54 African nations have submitted.
Only Kenya, Gabon, Ethiopia, and Morocco, have submitted theirs.
Submission of the INDC’S is critical as they will not only determine the rate of action at which the world will tackle climate change after 2020 but also the outcome of the COP21 in Paris.
“Lack of INDC submission will not affect the decisions in Paris but the more submissions the better, but it’s not a condition for success or failure of the Paris agreement but we are optimistic that a representative number of countries will present their INDC’s,” Poncet explains.
China and the United States have already submitted their INDC’s, which is seen as a major step towards attaining the ambitious pledge – to come into force by 2025 – to keep the global temperatures at two degrees Celsius.
China intends to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 60 to 65 per cent by 2030, while the US proposes to reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025.
But Jean Jean-Pierre Gattuso, the director of research at the National Centre for Scientific Research at the University of Pierre-et-Marie Curie in southern France, argues that although INDC’s are a good direction by which the world should go, they are not ambitious enough to reduce the global warming to 2 degrees.
“For COP21 agreement, it’s not a big deal if a number of countries do not submit their INDC’s before then as long as majority of the major CO2 emitters will have submitted,” Gattuso explains, “It’s an ongoing process where the UNFCCC will aggregate all the contribution submitted and scientists will evaluate the contribution.”
According to Cheikh Mbow, a senior scientist on climate and development with the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre (Icraf), Africa will need to rethink its strategy before submitting their INDCs as it faces serious data challenges informing carbon dioxide emissions.