Climate Finance: How Counties Can Finance Climate Action?
Kenya is by far, quite advanced in terms of integrating robust climate finance principles in its development planning architecture
First published in the Standard Newspaper on 23 November 2021
From Glasgow to Sharm El Sheikh – What an Uncertain Future?
This year’s Devolution Conference is marked at a very important time. This is after the just ended Twenty Sixth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that was held in Glasgow, Scotland under the United Kingdom, and Italy’s presidency.
Even as the globe continues to debate on whether the Glasgow Pact negotiated by the over 120 Heads of States and Governments that participated in COP26 was successful or not, the reality is that the adopted compromise pact does not even come close to reducing the global emissions to the 1.5 degrees target.
Neither does the compromise pact deliver real tangible financing required by developing countries like Kenya to effectively adapt to the ravaging climate crisis. Granted, some significant progress was reported that forms a sound benchmark as the globe awaits next year’s COP27 to be hosted in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, but the message is clear – a lot more work is required to salvage the world from an all-out climate induced apocalypse.
Some of the key positive steps recorded in Glasgow include the adoption by over 100 countries constituting over 85% of the world’s forests to a commitment to enhance forestry and land restoration, strategies to reduce methane emissions, commitments from international finance institutions to draw down on their investment in fossil fuels and coal, as well as commitment to boost climate finance to adaptation. Although the global 100 billion USD pledge of climate finance made by developed nations is yet to be actualized, the discourse on climate finance is bound to grow into an area of key focus.
Unpacking Climate Financing
But first, what is climate financing? Climate financing is the sourcing of local, national, or transnational financing, from public, private and alternatives as part of the global efforts aimed at supporting mitigation and adaptation actions that will sustainably address climate change. It is at the core of the quest for attaining a just and fair global regime governing the climate change discourse. It remains an important avenue for signatories to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement (PA), as availing a sound framework for financing required climate actions, in a manner respecting the principle of ‘common-but-differentiated’ responsibilities.
This ensures that countries like Kenya that do not contribute to the emissions that lead to climate change; yet suffer the most impacts are supported to help meet the global emission reductions targets required to reverse the changing climates.
Without doubt, the role of climate finance in unlocking sustainable climate actions to support communities adapt to climate change, while reducing further greenhouse gas emissions can never be refuted.
Kenya’s Place in Climate Finance
It is however important to note that Kenya is by far, quite advanced in terms of integrating robust climate finance principles in its development planning architecture. In this regard, UNDP commends the Government of Kenya for the commitment and leadership to ensuring that coordination structures and instruments are put in place so that as part of national climate change response efforts, sustainable and innovative financing is mobilized. At the national level, efforts by the National Treasury and Planning and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry are beginning to bear some fruits, yet a lot of work is still required to fully bring all the 47 counties into this fold.
For instance, UNDP and the National Treasury has prepared the Kenya Climate Finance Synthesis Report and Programme, which is an easy-to-read summary analysis of the country’s climate finance journey. This report tracks how the country has institutionalized the climate finance discourse, highlighting some of the existing gaps which require to be resolved to strengthen the role of counties in the climate finance debate. The report presents a mixed picture. At the national level, Kenya boasts of a robust regulatory legislative and policy terrain that provides building blocks for realizing transformative climate actions at all levels, including the Climate Change Act 2016, the Public Finance Management Act 2012, the Climate Finance Policy 2018 and other regulations, guidelines, and standards, not all counties have localized these to their unique contexts and plans.
Importance of Sustained Climate Finance to the Counties
UNDP therefore calls upon all partners to support the Government of Kenya to strengthen climate finance at the county levels. We appreciate the World Bank, Sweden, and Denmark for supporting the Financing Locally Led Climate Action Programme (FLLOCA). This provides a strong background upon which more such interventions can continue occurring at the county level.
The Sustainable Tree Growing Fund developed by UNDP in partnership with UNEP, UNCDF, FAO and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is another novel idea, as counties would have support to help Kenya meet her 10% tree cover target. Even as partners support climate finance in the counties, the government should also enhance domestic budget allocation towards climate-relevant sectors. This is the only way to strengthen sustainable climate action at the county level.
The counties are also encouraged to dedicate significant portions of their budgetary allocations to strengthen climate actions in line with the progressive Nationally Determined Contributions Update submitted by Kenya to the UNFCCC. The counties should enhance allocations towards mitigation actions such as re-afforestation, renewable energy, sustainable transport, agriculture and integrating nature-based solutions in the development plans. They also need to dedicate significant efforts to develop and align their policies and regulatory frameworks to those at the national level and to successfully implement them to ensure adequate investment in climate change-related programs at county levels.
Indeed, counties are important centers for financing Kenya’s ambitious climate action plans.