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Kenya hopes to become Africa's carbon trade hub

The retreating glaciers on Mount Kenya may be a sign of climate change. The government has allocated US$721 million to conservation. Photo: Flickr/Kalense Kid.

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[NAIROBI] Kenya has announced plans to establish a regional carbon emissions trading scheme to steer Africa's carbon market.

This would hopefully position the country as the continent's carbon credit trade hub, finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta said in his budget speech to parliament earlier this month (10 June).

Kenyatta said a framework for carbon trading — in which polluters buy and sell the right to emit carbon — would be set up to outline how to register to participate in the scheme, how revenue would be shared and how to ensure accountability.

The framework would also describe development areas to be funded by the resources generated from the scheme.

 

Kenyatta said a carbon credit investment framework would help streamline conservation efforts and alleviate poverty in the country, saying it had the potential to attract billions of Kenyan shillings annually.

The government also allocated 58 billion Kenyan shillings (US$721 million) for environmental conservation in the 2010/11 financial year — a more than 50 per cent rise from the previous year's US$473 million.

Out of this, US$640 million will go to the environment, water and sanitation sectors, in efforts aimed at reversing what many see as Kenya's battered biodiversity systems.

"Efforts must be made through comprehensive environmental conservation to forestall the adverse effects of climate change in order to reverse damages to our scarce arable land, water and biodiversity resources," Kenyatta told parliament.

"The government recognises that the restoration of ecosystems provides the key to reducing poverty, creating employment and improving food security."

Fredrick Njau, of the Nairobi-based Green Belt Movement, told SciDev.Net he believed the trading scheme would improve the livelihoods of communities by generating money in exchange for trees planted.

"This is the first time in the past 30 years that communities are set to benefit from planting trees in this country," he said.

Claudia Ringler, a senior research fellow at the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute, said: "It is certainly laudable that Kenya plans to set up a regional emissions trading scheme for Africa.

"[But] setting up such a system is highly complex and will require a large amount of resources and capacity development. It is not clear if the government has the will or the resources needed to both develop and keep such a system alive.

"Secondly, while a Kenya-based scheme could and should support poor rural smallholder farmers in the country, reaching out to farmers, pastoralists and those in charge of conserving forests will be even more complex, and has yet to be achieved at scale by existing voluntary carbon markets."

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