The plans by the government to set up a legal framework that will allow it to effectively fight the effects of climate change in the country and globally is now on course after the Senate debated and passed a proposed Bill on climate change.
The House on Thursday debated and approved the Climate Change (Amendment) Bill, 2023, paving way for its assent by President William Ruto before it can officially become law.
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The Bill which is sponsored by the government, was moved by the Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot and seconded by the chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Lands, Environment and Natural Resources John Methu.
It sought to amend the current Climate Change Act which does not provide a legal framework for carbon trading, necessitating amendment to facilitate effective implementation of carbon markets and trading in alignment with the objective of the Climate Change Act, 2016.
Despite the Climate Change Act, 2016 laying the groundwork for Kenya`s climate change response by establishing the National Climate Change Council and mandating the development of the National Climate Change Action Plan, the Act does not address the regulation of the carbon markets, as essential instrument for achieving emissions reduction goals and fulfilling commitments under international agreements.
Among the international agreements that the proposed Bill seeks to address is the Paris Agreement that Kenya ratified on December 28, 2016.
The agreement committed member states to limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius besides establishing a global carbon trading mechanism under Article 6 and thereby enabling countries to trade emissions reductions.
The passage of the Bill will now make it possible for Kenya to engage a broader range of stakeholders and support its emissions reduction goals.
Section 6 of the Bill has been amended by expanding the functions of the Climate Change Council to include the provision of guidance and policy direction on carbon markets to the national and county governments, the public and other stakeholders.
Section 8 of the Act has also been amended to increase powers and duties of the Cabinet Secretary concerning carbon trading, stipulating the appointment of the Designated National Authority by the Cabinet Secretary and mandating that the Authority maintains the National Carbon Registry established under section 23G.
Under the amended law, the Cabinet Secretary will be required to report to Parliament annually unlike previously where he was required to do so bi-annually.
The new law further mandates community development agreements which must encompass the annual social contribution, calculated as a percentage of the previous year`s aggregate earnings from carbon trading projects, to the local community with the contribution set at 40% per annum for land-based projects and 25% per annum for non-land-based projects.
In addition, sections 33 of the Act was amended to incorporate offences and penalties associated with the regulation of carbon markets.
Senators who contributed during the debate unanimously supported the Bill appealing to all the leaders and Kenyans at large to embrace conservation of environment to address effects of Climate change.
The passed Bill will now be transmitted to President William Ruto for assent.