Kenya has been at the forefront in the reduction of the Green House Gas (GHG) emission. In so doing, there has been observance of both the international legal instruments (the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, the Paris Agreement of 2015, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, among other policies) and the local instruments being the Climate Change Act of 2016 and the National Climate Change Action Plan of 2013. Further efforts are being directed at the finalization of the Carbon Credit and Benefit Sharing Bill of 2023.
To effectively and successfully implement the global emission reduction, Kenya has to employ legal principles and apparatuses that are within the legal gamut that is supreme; the Constitution.
The drafters of the Kenyan constitution put in motion broad principles that are aimed at promoting environmental conservation that if well observed would lead to environmental sustainability and adaption. The general provisions that cater to such efforts are as follows;
- Article 10 on national values and principles of governance expresses that social justice and sustainable development are part of the list forming values and principles;
- Article 42 expresses that persons have the right to a clean and healthy environment;
- Article 70 offers the platforms to address and redress persons affected by environmental rights infringements;
- Article 71 expresses that any agreements regarding natural resources be ratified by parliament;
Further, from the reading of Schedule 4 of the Constitution, both the National and County levels of Government have obligations to take part in the conservation of the environment. It would thus mean that the National government must develop a catalog of functions or the extent to which the county governments have to participate to reduce GHG emissions. This is because the obligations that have been put in place in the international instruments have been placed on the Kenyan government and not the county governments directly.
Information about the principles and the obligations laid down in the international instruments already ratified by parliament has to be piped down to the now maturing county governments for them to position themselves to take part in this effort. On the other hand, the county governments have to have in place mechanisms and structures for receiving this fundamental information and be ready to implement the same.
Of importance is therefore for the national government to take cognizance of the fact that the county governments will make a major contribution to the reduction of GHG emissions. In so doing, the national government, through parliament ought to consider increasing the budget allocation to the counties for the counties to be able to assist in the global movement of GHG emission reduction.
The international communities and international financial institutions that have expressed intention to finance Kenya to participate in the climate change arena may want to engage directly with county governments or local institutions that show that they are ready to embrace and employ such climate change financing effectively.
For counties to benefit majorly from the international financial institutions that may want to engage directly with them, they must have in place local statutes that address the specific avenues that such counties are ready to employ to contribute to GHG emissions. Such counties may have to even include laws on how to sell carbon credits in the future.
By; Thiong’o Gachaga,
Consultant, Climate Change & Environmental Governance