, PARIS, FRANCE, Dec 1 — President Uhuru Kenyatta has put pressure on world leaders, especially those from developed nations, to secure legally binding commitments regarding climate change, at a global summit in Paris.
The President, in his address to some 150 Heads of State and Government, insisted that developed nations support developing nations with technology, finance and capacity building to enable them manage climate change. He also wanted them to be fair in the application of rules governing emissions.
“We look forward to an ambitious Paris Climate Change Agreement, in accordance with the objective, principles and provisions of the Convention,” the President said.
President Kenyatta also held talks on wildlife conservation with Prince Charles, heir to the British throne. The Prince has a great interest in conserving Kenya’s elephants.
President Kenyatta was also due to join French President Francois Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event showcasing solar technology. France has installed thousands of solar panels around Paris and other cities as it looks to showcase its green credentials.
President Kenyatta was accompanied to the talks by Environment CS Professor Judi Wakhungu, who was praised by organisers for Kenya’s commitment to ensuring a successful outcome in Paris, and a campaign that has led to a reduction of elephant poaching, and Foreign CS Amb. Amina Mohamed.
President Kenyatta said that Kenya was among the first developing nations to submit an ambitious ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, confirming its commitments to emission targets.
He said despite the fact that the country contributed a mere 0.1 percent of the total global emissions, Kenya had pledged to voluntarily take national measures and actions for emission reduction and for enhancing adaptation to climate change.
“Our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution has both adaptation and mitigation components: a sign of our resolve to address mitigation and adaptation on an equal footing,” said President Kenyatta.
He said some of the sector-wide voluntary domestic measures and actions which government had instituted included expansion in geothermal, solar, wind and other renewable and clean energy options.
“Close to two-thirds of our power at present is green. Our 310 megawatt Lake Turkana wind farm will be the biggest such project in Africa,” said the President
The President also spoke about Kenya’s progress towards achieving and maintaining a tree cover of at least 10 percent of the country’s land area and the introduction and management of low carbon and efficient transportation systems. Currently the country’s tree cover stands at 7.2 percent.
He said Kenya would continue to be guided by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as the primary forum for intergovernmental negotiations on climate change.
He said Kenya supported the incoming COP 21 Presidency’s efforts to achieve a balanced, fair and rules-based agreement to guide climate action beyond 2020 and noted that the agreement should be aligned to the objective, principles and provisions of the Convention, including equity, and common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities.
The objective of Paris Climate Change Summit is to give a strong political momentum to the climate change negotiations, which include the long-term global goal of stabilising the global temperature increase to below 1.5 degree Celsius.
President Kenyatta and other leaders assured President Francois Hollande that they stood with France following recent terror attacks.
“As a nation similarly affected, we know how you feel. Let me reaffirm our view that to combat terrorism, which is a global problem, requires a global concerted approach and effort,” said President Kenyatta.
The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon told world leaders that the time for brinksmanship was over and that they should take advantage of the current political momentum to reach consensus.
“I urge you to choose the path of compromise, and of consensus, and if necessary of flexibility,” he said.
During the summit the United States, Canada and nine European countries pledged nearly $250 million to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to rising seas, droughts and other impacts of climate change.