This newsletter gives you highlights of selected sustainability insights that were, perhaps, too long (you) didn’t read (TLDR) or there’s just too much out there to read. The highlights presented cover insights gleaned from a global, regional (African), and national (Kenyan) perspective. Happy reading!
In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its 6th report on the state of global climate change. This report will inform the Global Stocktake – the first critical review and inventory of the world’s actions on climate change as per the Paris Agreement; whether we are making progress or not, and identify the gaps and opportunities for the world’s people to turn the tide. The Stocktake will take place at COP 28 in Dubai, 30 November to 12 December 2023.
The 6th IPCC report provides the latest scientific knowledge on climate change, its impacts and risks, and mitigation and adaptation as the reality of where we are. The biggest call out from the report is that “There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”
Here are some key highlights from this report:
- Human activities (mainly GHG emissions) has caused global warming with global average temperatures currently at 1.10 GHG emissions continue to increase from unsustainable energy use, land use and land use change, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production across regions, between and within countries and among individuals.
- Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere (ice), and biosphere (ecosystems) have occurred. Climate change has reduced food security and affected water security. Approx. 3-6 billion people live in contexts highly vulnerable to climate change.
- Although adaptation planning and implementation progress is happening, gaps exist and will continue to grow given current rates of adaptation implementation. In some ecosystems and regions adaptation limits are being reached i.e. it’s getting too late to adapt.
- The existing policies and actions currently in place globally will exceed 1.50C and probably 2.00C in this century.
- Global warming will continue to increase between 2021-2040 due to continued GHG emissions, and in this time frame we will exceed 1.50C – despite this, we must still take deep, rapid and sustained reduction (even if these actions don’t immediately give us feedback that they are working). Climate change impacts and risks will continue to will continue to increase in the near term (2021 – 2040), it will get worse before it gets better.
- Some climate change impacts are now unavoidableg. sea level rise of 0.15m-0.29m by 2050, and will remain this way for centuries to millennia. Changes will also be triggered when tipping points are reached e.g. by ecosystems, biodiversity and species loss.
Image: IPCC report, 2023.
The world must act decisively and rapidly – from governments, organisations and individuals – to address global warming and climate change.
- To limit warming to 1.50C or 2.00C requires rapid, deep and immediate GHG emissions reduction in all sectors in this decade (by 2030), with global net zero CO2 emissions by early 2050s (1.50C), early 2070s (2.00C).
- Prioritising equity and a just transition, finance, technology and international cooperation, governance and policies will be critical levers for the world to achieve a liveable future.
Image: IPCC report, 2023
My two cents: It is said that when we know better, we do better. The report provides concrete areas for action. The report also highlights that personal must be taken in our behavioural and lifestyle choices – especially for middle and high income households (consumer choices), to reduce the emission-intensive consumption/production system. The decisions, choices and actions are in our hands.
AFRICA: USA Vice President’s Africa Tour
United States Vice President, Kamala Harris recently concluded her official Africa Tour – visiting Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia).
Geopolitics and the political economy are integral to sustainability and the sustainability challenges e.g. natural resources and biodiversity conservation, governance, (in)equality, etc. and these factors greatly influence policy and corporate decision-making and action.
- Digital inclusion – as a critical channel to economic empowerment and the digital economy.
- Economic empowerment of women – that will uplift women, and as a result their families and communities.
- Good governance and democracy – with the 3 countries visited viewed by the US as nations focused on this and fighting against corruption.
On her visit, the VP also made key investment commitments to the continent, namely:
- Over USD 7 billion to climate resilience, adaptation and mitigation – in climate-smart agriculture, sustainability, clean energy and transportation, expanding access to climate information services, and enhancing climate resilience and adaptation
- Promoting regional security – with over USD 100 million committed for conflict prevention and stabalisation in Coastal West Africa
- Support to Ghana’s economic recovery and debt restructuring
- Strengthening economic development, regional integration
- Addressing shared health challenges
- Deepening US partnership with Tanzania
- Strengthening commercial engagement, democratic institutions and good governance, boosting health cooperation, and food security, energy and climate solutions in Zambia
- Economic empowerment for women with over USD 1 billion and a new Women in the Digital Economy Fund
Interestingly, most of this committed US investment and support will be driven through partnerships with NGOs, social enterprises, and private-sector companies to deliver the impact and reach required.
My two cents: This decade presents exciting (and challenging) opportunities for our continent. Strategic partnerships will be a vital avenue to channel investments, and deliver sustainability and responsible impact. These partnerships will need to include African enterprises and prioritise sustainable development prosperity for the continent’s people. Given where the continent is today, this wasn’t (always) the case before.
The Kenyan judiciary is setting up a separate Environment division in the High Court. This division is being brought out of the existing Environment and Land Court to give more priority to cases concerning the environment and climate change.
The new division is set to kick off in June 2023, giving all Kenyans the opportunity to report cases on erosion, degradation, pollution, climate change issues, etc.
Across the continent, pan-African judiciaries are working together to cement the role of the court in addressing climate change and its impacts. The recently concluded meeting on Greening of Judiciaries across Africa, produced a 10-point action plan that included developing trans-national framework on environmental law.
Kenya’s Climate Change Act 2016, mandates the Cabinet Secretary to formulate the country’s National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) which is how Kenya delivers its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. The current NCCAP (2018 – 2022) prioritises 7 action areas in: disaster (droughts and floods), risk management, food and nutrition security, water and the blue economy, forestry, wildlife and tourism, health, sanitation and human settlements, manufacturing, and energy and transport.
A detailed overview of Kenya’s environmental and climate change law published by TripleOKLaw Advocates is available here: Kenya Environment and Climate Change Law Review Ed. 7
My two-cents: Kenya’s Constitution’s Article 69 states that: “Every person has a duty to cooperate with State organs and other persons to protect and conserve the environment and ensure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources.” The soon to be High Court Environment division, is a much needed tangible mechanism that Kenyans and non-Kenyans can use to protect the country’s natural environment that gives life, livelihoods and secures the country’s sustainable development.
Image: Kenya NCCAP (2018-2022), Vol.1