ECN supports Kenyan government to tackle climate change, and secure future investment in economy at the same time

Tuesday June 2, 2015 12:37

Did you know that ECN is supporting many developing countries to minimize and mitigate the impact of climate change? For example, in 2010  the Kenyan government selected ECN and partners to help develop its National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP). The country already had a climate strategy but no practical plan for realizing it. Meanwhile, carbon emissions per head was growing at around 9 per cent a year. Donald Pols, senior manager global sustainability at ECN, oversees the Kenya support activities.

Besides the Kenyan authorities, ECN’s Global Sustainability Team has also served the European Commission, the UK's Department for International Development, the UNDP and the climate panel IPCC. What makes such prestigious organisations choose ECN?
Donald Pols: ‘We held a survey among our customers last year, asking just that. Their answer: “You’re solid, reliable, you don’t impose your own agenda.” I’d add that we’re able to combine social considerations, the low-carbon agenda and energy sector development, with economic growth.’

Why is it important for Kenya to have a response to climate change and in what sense does ECN help?
‘As the biggest and most advanced economy in east and central Africa, Kenya functions as a flagship for the potential of low-carbon development in Africa. Successful low-carbon growth in Kenya can therefore provide a driver for low-carbon development in the region, both through its direct impact and its exemplary function.’

‘In addition as a result of climate change, the availability of hydroelectric power - traditionally the major provider of power in Kenya - is diminishing: there is simply less rain. The Action Plan helps Kenya deal with this new reality whilst moving towards a low-carbon pathway, rather than turning to their high-emission coal reserves.’
‘We combine in-depth knowledge of conversion techniques, such as solar or water to electricity, with a strongly developed process expertise allowing the identification and inclusion of the major stakeholders. This enables us to develop a broadly supported policy, reflecting the interests of all relevant parties, including the communities involved, thus reducing possible obstacles to deployment of the plan. ’

That seems quite a broad challenge. How did you tackle it?
‘We took a four-step approach that covered the whole delivery chain from early policy discussions to concrete investments on the ground. Firstly, we identified the challenge and the relevant stakeholders. At the end of this stage, the Kenyan government had a broad understanding of the suite of options available to them, and of who had to be involved in the process. We then supported prioritisation of technical options and defining concrete steps to make them a reality on the ground. This involved technical analysis, but more importantly, deep stakeholder engagement. The NCCAP was the output from this phase. In order to move from policy to implementation, we supported developing funding proposals in the form of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) which were presented to the international community. The NAMA for Kenya is aimed at reducing risks for investors and should mobilise up to $200 million in the short term. In the last phase, we evaluated and adjusted as needed. Here, we compared lessons learned in the development in Kenya - in which the experience of NAMA-developments elsewhere were included - with those internationally in the annual status report on NAMAs.’

Last year, the NCCAP was approved. Its six Priority Actions are in the field of geothermal power generation, distributed clean energy solutions, improved water resource management, restoration of forests on degraded lands, climate smart agriculture and agroforestry and infrastructure. What do they have in common?
‘They are all ‘big win’ opportunities, combining hefty improvements in climate resilience and mitigation benefits with economic growth.’

What will be achieved when the Action Plan is fully implemented?
‘The Action Plan, which covers 2013 to 2017, puts in place a long-term framework that will deliver result up to 2030 as part of Kenya’s Vision 2030. By 2030, all of the major sectors of the Kenyan economy will have made the transition to a low-carbon development pathway. When the policies are implemented as planned, that will mobilise investments of $ 10 to $13 billion investment in low-carbon development by 2030, resulting in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent compared to the reference scenario.’

Is ECN still involved in the project?
‘We were asked to continue to support the Kenyan government in the roll-out of its climate policy, more specifically to develop a NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) for the geothermal sector. This will be an important sector, given the future growth of the Kenyan industry.’ The Geothermal NAMA has now been approved. We are privileged to have the opportunity develop a second NAMA for the Government of Kenya. It is focusing on developing rural household energy.

If you would like to know more about our work with developing countries, please contact us.

Category: Policy Studies