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Climate finance gaps imperil mitigation plans

Tuesday, June 4th, 2024 07:00 | By
Climate change activist. PHOTO/Print
Climate change activist. PHOTO/Print

Kenya has just experienced one of the worst environmental disasters in decades due to the climate crisis caused by human-induced global warming.

Ironically, after a devastating drought following six failed rainy seasons, the East and Horn of Africa region succumbed to catastrophic floods. The prolonged drought had not been witnessed for 40 years. Over 36.5 million people were affected, 20 million faced acute food insecurity, and over 16.3 million could not access enough water.

Equally, the extensive flooding has left a trail of death and destruction. Lives lost and homes, possessions, schools and other buildings washed away or damaged, uprooting thousands of people.

Unusually heavy rains caused rivers to burst their banks, dams to collapse, and sewerage systems to be overwhelmed. Over 637,000 people have been affected. The damage caused to roads, bridges and railways is estimated at over Sh35 billion. Some of the worst damage occurred in poor, congested informal settlements in Nairobi where infrastructure is fragile, drainage is inadequate and homes are flimsy.                      

As nations mark World Environment Day on June 5, urgent action is required to address these two climate crisis issues through disaster risk management. Disaster risk policies and strategies must prevent new disaster risk, reduce existing disaster risk and manage residual risk, contributing to the strengthening of resilience and reduction of disaster losses.

Actions must be prospective, corrective and compensatory. Other than retrofitting critical infrastructure, corrective disaster management means relocation of exposed populations or assets. Compensatory disaster risk management activities strengthen the social and economic resilience of individuals and societies through preparedness, response and recovery activities, and financing instruments

World Environment Day’s theme of “land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience” fits well with urgent global calls for climate action reflecting on Kenya’s and other climate-vulnerable nations’ situation.

The historic UN Conference on Climate Change (COP28) unveiled the world’s first “Global Stocktake” on climate action and support with a stark reality: Progress lags significantly behind the 2015 Paris Agreement goals on the reduction of global warming, and time is slipping away.

Although they are the least contributors to global warming, climate-vulnerable nations experience most of the climate impacts first-hand, enduring devastating consequences such as prolonged droughts and floods, often with limited resources to respond and adapt.

The Global Stocktake highlighted significant levels of climate finance vulnerable nations need but does not speak to making up shortfalls for the $100 billion goal in the Paris Agreement. Wealthy nations (the heaviest greenhouse gas emitters and the greatest contributors to global warming) agreed to an initial climate finance goal of delivering $100 annually to developing (vulnerable) countries. Significant concerns remain about the quantity and quality of climate finance flows.

There is little progress on the new collective quantified goals on climate finance negotiations agreed upon at COP28, only procedural decisions. Urgent climate action is needed to elevate the needs and priorities of vulnerable countries to deliver ambitious, balanced, just, and equitable outcomes at COP29 on mitigation, adaptation, finance and loss and damage. Finance is lacking across the board, with a growing gap between the needs of developing countries and the support provided and mobilised for their efforts to implement their national climate plans.

— The writer comments on environmental matters

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