MPs from Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa joined their Kenyan counterparts in the National Assembly chambers on Wednesday, September 6, for a vital discussion on climate change.
The Africa Climate Summit Parliamentarians Dialogue 2023, held under the patronage of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) and the Africa Climate Change Summit, garnered support from prominent international bodies, including the African Union, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula inaugurated the inaugural plenary session, with Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang presiding over the proceedings.
Kajwang initiated the debate with a succinct explanation of the significance of legislators engaging in a discourse about the pivotal role of Parliaments in climate action.
“This dialogue will focus on the following key themes, including the importance of climate adaptation in Africa and the need for increased international climate finance for Africa,” Kajwang stated.
“We will also review the role of Parliaments in ensuring that climate action is inclusive and equitable and the need to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future,” he added.
Subsequently, Speaker Wetang’ula briefly addressed the assembly on the necessity for this conversation to raise awareness among parliamentarians regarding the pressing urgency of climate action, aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which encourage nations to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Wetang’ula emphasized that parliamentarians should familiarize themselves with the tools and resources indispensable for effectively addressing climate change and cultivate a network of MPs committed to climate action.
“We need to create a platform for parliamentarians to share experiences and best practices. The Dialogue is a key opportunity for parliamentarians to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities of climate change,” Wetang’ula said.
“It is also an opportunity to build momentum for climate action in Africa,” Wetang’ula added.
Addressing the most imminent concerns, Gauri Singh, the Indian delegate and Deputy Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency, proposed that the aim of the dialogue should revolve around formulating recommendations for MPs to enact in their respective nations.
Singh elucidated that these recommendations would empower Parliaments to assume a leadership role in the battle against climate change.
“Energy security has become a vital component of the entire energy transition narrative and a prominent facet of how nations aim to achieve self-sufficiency. Parliaments hold the responsibility of crafting laws, allocating budgets, and overseeing the implementation of climate policies. Parliamentarians can also heighten awareness of climate change, hold governments accountable, and advocate for ambitious climate action,” Singh stated.
The Parliamentarians collectively acknowledged notable legislative achievements in the global fight against climate change.
In 2015, the UK Parliament passed the Climate Change Act, setting a legally binding target of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A year later, the French Parliament enacted a law mandating that all new buildings be zero-carbon by 2020.
In tandem with these international milestones, the Kenyan Parliament also contributed to climate action through the passage of the Climate Change Act, which established a national climate change committee and provisions for developing a national climate change policy. These legislative examples underscored the diverse strategies Parliaments can employ to address the exigencies of climate change.