The famous international cartoonist Jeff Parker once drew an illustration of a speeding car with a huge dark soot footprint following closely behind. The caption, “Remember objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”, spelled humor that reflected a sobering reality—human action contributes to climate change. Kenya is slowing waking up to this reality and acting on it.
Some people are even realizing that reducing carbon emissions can be good for business. The highly-criticized system of carbon emissions trading might turn out to be a driving force for change in Kenyan business. The basic idea behind carbon emission trading, also called cap-and-trade, is that companies pay a certain fee for every authorized ration of carbon release. This fee is used to pay other companies that engage in more carbon-conservative projects. The problem: companies just pay the bill for continued pollution instead of polluting less. However, in Kenya, the cap-and-trade system seems to work as a real incentive for the creation of sustainable businesses.
The Turkana wind project is an example of this, bringing home about 7.5 million Euros in carbon credits in a year. Another key player includes Kenya’s electricity-generating plant, Kengen, which is already raking in up to Kes 442 million each year for their sale of 66,000 carbon credits, conserved by their use of geothermal energy. Meanwhile, Mumias Sugar Company traces back its green roots to using sugarcane to make their energy. However, at the end of 2012, expect to see Kenya and other rapidlydeveloping African states, such as Nigeria and South Africa, being phased out of the carbon trade for LDC’s (lessdeveloped countries). Still, the bigger picture remains a green economy.
By Alvin Andrew