Dr Kipkirui Langat
As the world is converging in Glasgow, Scotland for COP 26 (Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), some pertinent issues relating to climate change are being discussed to achieve net-zero emission by 2050. COP26 is the biggest climate summit since the Paris Agreement was inked in 2015. It comes at a pivotal moment for the planet as countries and companies hope to hit the gas on the transition to a fossil-fuel-free economy.
This year’s Summit is very special as it marks the first five-year interval after Paris, a deadline for countries to demonstrate tangible progress and ratchet up climate change ambitions. For the first time in 2015, developed and developing countries representing more than 95% of global greenhouse gas emissions committed to adhering to a common framework to slow global warming. The Paris Agreement, decades in the making, was built on painstaking compromises defining the rules of the global response to climate change.
At the moment, the focus is on countries to deliver on their promises to keep temperature increases well below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. This would require going beyond removing fossil fuels from client portfolios by investing in climate solutions. This would have been possible if developed countries honoured a promise they made back in 2009 of mobilizing USD100 billion per year by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries. At the moment, the world has already warmed up to 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, nearly the maximum amount of 1.5 degrees Celsius agreed on under the Paris Agreement. There is a massive gap between what is needed to attain the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit and countries’ stated emission-reduction targets, particularly for the world’s largest polluters.
Kenya is participating in the conference where the country profile was presented as an evidence base to inform the production of Net Zero Future visions. In addressing the conference, our President, HE Uhuru Kenyatta vowed to make Africa’s voice on climate finance heard. The President cautioned that climate impacts are a growing security concern and that he would champion the African cause at the United Nations Security Council where Kenya is currently seated as a non-permanent member. The conference was also addressed by Kenyan activist Elizabeth Wathuti, who made a compelling appeal for action based on the disproportionate impacts and climate challenges that the African people already experience.
Climate change is a critical global issue as its impact has far-reaching consequences at the environmental, societal and economic levels, and demands activism in all sectors of work and life. In the education and training sector, UNESCO-UNEVOC has been advocating for the effective transmission of the knowledge and skills needed to promote climate change through mainstreaming of climate response. To achieve this, UNEVOC is assisting TVET agencies and institutions in the development and implementation of green strategies to transform their learning and training environments, in fulfilment of their role in skilling learners, upskilling professionals in green job sectors, and re-skilling those affected by job losses due to the green transition and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. TVET can address knowledge and skills challenges to achieve the SDGs as well as transmit the right mindset and attitude among trainees and the future workforce through well-designed education and training system.
As we participate in the global debate, the emphasis should be now on the greening of occupations with a focus on high-skilled, well-paid jobs such as in the renewable energy industries, energy efficiency and mass transit as well as other skills in agriculture, eco-tourism and waste management. This requires repositioning our TVET institutions to be able to supply the experts and technologies required to operate a green economy. This also calls for putting in place policies and strategies that would encourage sectors of the economy to shift their operations to greening practices.
More fundamentally, the quality assurance regime that we have put in place as a country will encourage institutions to participate in research, innovation, entrepreneurship and greening of TVET alongside community engagement. This will ensure that TVET institutions go beyond training and translate the knowledge and skills learnt into immediate products and services sustainably directly benefitting the immediate communities and banking on the prospects of a better Kenya build on hope and innovation and contributing to the future we want.
The author is the Director-General TVETA and Transport Emissions, Expert