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Kenya must stop climate funds going down the drain at home


Kenya must stop climate funds going down the drain at home

Wednesday July 05 2023

Kenya's President William Ruto delivers a speech during a 'Global Citizen' concert in Paris on June 22, 2023. PHOTO | ANNA KURTH | AFP

Last year, global foreign aid rose to its highest-ever figure, up 3.5 percent in real terms in 2019, and representing the renewed will to aid developing nations in their Covid recoveries, declared the OECD.

Yet the figures are salutary, at a point when we see our president spelling out a new vision for the structure of global finance at the Paris global financing summit last month.

For the problem is — and how wonderful that Kenya is now the global champion for a genuine solution to this roadblock — that the old structure of pressing the Global North to pay for climate mitigation and adaptation in the Global South just cannot work.

The most recent estimates suggest that Africa will need funding of $190 billion a year up until 2030 to move to clean energy – in a transition that Kenya now leads, as the most advanced nation in Africa in its proportion of renewable energy.

Likewise, Africa is estimated to need $53 billion a year for adaptation, to cope with the changing weather, rising heat, and consequent weather extremes, water scarcity, pests, and health catastrophes.

So with the African sum on the climate table, just for energy transition and adaptation, of $243 billion, it’s salutary that total global foreign aid has now reached new records….of $204 billion a year.

Needless to say, African climate doesn’t currently hold a huge placeholder in that sum, but even if it secured 100 percent of the whole world’s aid budget, Asia and South America were asked to whistle – no more aid at all – and every other aid line were shut down: it still wouldn’t be enough.

Yet there we have been stuck for now years, bickering through successive COP summits. Now Kenya has led in proposing new global tax options, seeing a tax task force formed at last month’s Paris Summit that will report at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi later this year.

The plan that has charmed and lured the world’s leaders proposes a single climate finance pot, fed by global taxes directed straight to it and allocated on the basis of need.

That’s one ‘need’ equation that is going to take some masterminds to navigate and police.

But then, as and when Kenya gets funds that it desperately does need – to regenerate desertified land, to get water creation and genuinely climate-resilient seeds into every rural home, to create heat-resistant plasticised roads by adding recycled plastics, and more – then, oh please, please, please, let it be properly spent.

No missing funds. No audit committee with a few billion lost. But the same principles of justice for Kenyans applied at home as we are now seeking from the whole world: would be genuinely awe-inspiring.

The writer is a development communication specialist.