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Once again, climate scientists are warning that time is running out in the global race to stay ahead of catastrophic climate change. While Kenya and many countries in the South can play an important role in addressing the problem, much more needs to be done to unlock this potential.

Last year in Berlin, Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud Kipzoge broke the world marathon record in 02:01:09 and beat his previous record by 30 seconds. His success made him a legend not only in Kenya but across the world. It provides a useful lesson for all involved in the fight against climate change. Kipzo’s success strategy is rooted in the science of running (as well as 120 miles of hard work every week), and our own approach to the climate crisis must include the same level of commitment and focus.

As temperatures continue to rise and emissions rise, the planet continues to set new (dangerous) records. But with determination and follow-through, we – together with our institutional partners and other governments – can start running faster to move on from the climate crisis. Success depends on observing the latest scientific advances and mobilizing the collective and widespread effort of governments and citizens.

In March, the world’s leading climatologists and governments endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest summary report. Again, the IPCC’s message was clear: humans have changed the planet forever, and global warming is already killing people, destroying nature, and impoverishing the world.

Although African countries have contributed least to the problem, they bear the brunt of the damage. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Africa accounts for less than 3% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, and 600 million Africans still lack access to electricity.

Climate change is a common problem that must be addressed by the global community working together, particularly given the disproportionate burden on the least accountable. During a recent visit to Kenya, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and I held talks on how to tackle the climate crisis. Under the Germany-Kenya Partnership for Climate and Development, our two countries are committed to deepening their cooperation in climate-resilient development and renewable energy, including supporting green hydrogen production and agriculture.
Today, we are a long way from limiting global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C, according to the Paris Climate Agreement. The climate crisis will not go away by itself. Instead, it must ensure that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions peak before 2025 and then decline by at least 43% by 2030.
This is the year that will lead to this change. The November-December UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) offers an opportunity to accelerate the energy transition, boost renewable energy development and phase out all fossil fuels, starting with coal.
Kenya is well on its way to achieving these goals. We already generate 92% of our electricity from clean sources and we are committed to achieving a 100% clean electricity grid by 2030. Likewise, 46% of Germany’s electricity will be renewable by 2022 and the government has pledged to increase this figure to 80%. 2030. Importantly, these commitments not only ensure clean energy and a safe environment; They will create jobs, attract investment and make our economies more secure and resilient in the face of volatile oil and gas prices.
But it is important that we run this race as a team. According to the IEA, the global ratio of investment in clean energy to investment in dirty energy should increase sixfold (from 1.5 to 9:1) by 2030.
Through a strong partnership between Africa, Europe and the rest of the international community, Kenya, with its abundant resources, can make a significant contribution to decarbonisation and the global transition to a net zero economy. We need to unlock climate finance and investment so we can unlock our potential for green economic growth. But to do so, we need to fix the current international financial system, which has proven inadequate to deal fairly with multiple global crises, from the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate emergency to excessive indebtedness in the global South.
A summit on a new global financial agreement in Paris next month offers Europe an opportunity to drum up support for reform of the international financial system. The international community must recognize our ability to help solve global problems and take action to ensure win-win outcomes. This means providing access to timely, affordable, adequate and sustainable finance.
As we reduce emissions, we must prepare our people and our housing, agricultural and food systems for rising temperatures and extreme weather events. Meeting the 2021 COP26 commitment to double global funding for climate change by 2025 is critical to protecting people and nature. The latest IPCC report is clear: climate change and inadequate adaptation and mitigation efforts are reversing development gains and undermining economic stability.

But we must remember that there are limits to adaptation and that climate change is already threatening the lives of millions of people. As the IPCC shows, reducing GHG emissions by 43% over this decade and keeping global warming to 1.5°C or less is the best chance of keeping the problem manageable. Kenya’s climate summit in September will provide an important opportunity to demonstrate the continent’s commitment, capacity and opportunities to address the climate crisis. All governments should commit to phasing out the use of fossil fuels. Reforms are needed to make our financial institutions and systems fit for purpose. And we must take climate action seriously. In the words of Eliud Kipchoge, the key to success is “walking your talk”.

By William Ruto
President of Kenya

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