By Naftali Mwaura
The 12th Session of conference of parties to the United Nations Framework convention on climate change kicked off in the Kenyan capital Nairobi with unusual global representation of more than six thousands delegates drawn from activists, Governments, Non governmental organisations, academia, Donors and Intergovernmental agencies.
Coming one year later after the signing into force of the Kyoto protocol-a treaty that binds Nations to commit themselves to reduce Green house gases that contribute to depletion of ozone layer, the meeting had one theme that resonated powerfully-the universe is standing on a precipice as global warming becomes intensified and that time to act is now.
Kenyan Vice President while officiating at the opening ceremony said that climate change is posing serious threats to humanity and Sub-saharan African Countries are bearing the brunt owing to their chronic vulnerability.”
Droughts, famine and spread of deserts are a recurring phenomenon in this part of the World where effects of climate change are being felt most”, said Awori.’’
Livelihoods of Rural poor face stark threat as poor rainfall patterns, land degradation and eventual drought threatens their very existence”,e choed Mr Awori
Kenya`s Minister for Environment and President of the entire conference said that climate change is emerging as a formidable threat to humanity and poses grave danger to billions of poor communities at the same time drawing backwards gains previously made in the fight against poverty.
The UNFCC Executive Director, Mr Yve De Boer underscored the significance of the meeting-the first one to be held in Sub Saharan Africa and challenged the gathering to come up with tangible measures of reversing the adverse effects of climate change with a particular focus on Africa which is the epicenter.
The Civil Society had an even blunt message.”The devastating effects of climate change are spiralling out of control and the call to address the grim scenario rings more loud than ever before”, said Mr Steve Sawyer, an Energy and Climate expert from Environmental lobby, Greenpeace International
Echoing similar sentiments, Professor Jesse Mugambi ,an Environmental activist from the World Council of Churches said that Kenya like many other African Countries has borne the brunt of global warming as witnessed in Elnino rains of 1997-1998,recurrent droughts and famine and the alarming receding of icecaps in our water towers especially Mt Kenya.
Mr Mugambi appealed to the Industrialised Countries-categorised in Annex 1 in Kyoto protocol to demonstrate real commitment in cutting down green house gas emissions.
All developed Countries in Annex 1 are obliged to make a 5% reduction target in the emission of gases that deplete the ozone layer.
The USA, European Union member States, Russia Australia and Japan are obliged under the Kyoto protocol to make substantial reduction in Green house gas emissions since their Industries forms the largest portion of releasing greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
But the US has yet to ratify the treaty citing economic considerations.
The need to expand Kyoto protocol to accommodate critical aspects like land use, aviation, tropical deforestation and actions that are commensurate with threats were all cited by the Civil Society as valuable in moving the process forward and achieving set targets.
The need to avail funds to Third World Countries which falls under Annex 111 was reiterated by members of the civil society who called upon Industrialised Countries to avail more carbon credits to poor Nations and boost their capacity to trade on carbon-as stipulated in Kyoto Protocol.
Political will from the highest echelons of Government was underscored as critical in achieving Kyoto objectives.