Clean energy has become the buzzword for fighting the increasing threat posed by global warming. There is an urgent need to contain the rising temperatures before they increase by a fatal 2⁰C. Indeed, countries at the COP 21 in Paris, France put a ceiling to this increase at 1.5⁰C. The continued use of carbon fuels, which release the so called greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere, has been identified as the major cause of climate change.

The drive towards promoting the use of clean energy is an initiative of several players including developed countries led by the US, international non-governmental organisations particularly the United Nations and multi-lateral lending agencies including the World Bank, and even the world’s richest individuals like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and Virgin Group head Richard Branson under the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

Combating climate change

Notwithstanding its enormous pollution challenges and status as a developing country, China has also made massive commitments to fund green energy projects, both at home and in other developing countries. The amount of money that has been promised to support developing countries as a whole is stupendous. For instance, America has pledged at least USD 800 million in support of clean energy projects, including investments in research and development.

Recently, China announced the establishment of a 20-billion-yuan (about USD 3 billion) China South-South Climate Cooperation Fund to help other developing countries combat climate change. The money will go towards launching cooperation projects for 10 low-carbon industrial parks, 100 climate mitigation projects in other countries, and facilitating 1,000 training opportunities for tackling climate change.

As necessary as it has been in enhancing the rate of economic development in many countries, the use of both fossil fuels and coal, especially in industrial production, has become untenable. What happened in many developed countries during the industrial revolution is now plaguing emerging industrial powerhouses like China, which is now suffering near suffocation from carbon emissions. Although the U.S. is still a major emitter of GHGs, it has invested in advanced pollution arresters.

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Basically, the billions of dollars in financial pledges made to developing countries must be invested in initiatives with tangible and measurable outcomes. This is because our history of utilising donor funds has been extremely wanting. While colossal amounts of aid and grants have been given for various social and economic projects to developing countries like Kenya, the visible benefits are hardly commensurate.

Therefore, donors and recipients must create effective monitoring and evaluation frameworks involving different players.

Of course, the government will take the lead in pursuing clean energy projects. But the private sector is also critical in ensuring that their production processes are weaned the use of carbon fuels. Kenya has taken the first step with the Turkana wind power project. More focus and resources should be aimed this way to cut off any use of diesel to meet power production shortfalls.

Still, we have a lot of sun but seem to be doing nothing in capturing solar power. This is ironical as temperate countries in Europe like Germany have invested greatly in this area, and have already incorporated significant percentages of solar electricity in the grid.

With innovation, there are more sources of non-carbon power that can be used for both domestic and industrial purposes. For example, with serious R&D, the sewer depot in Ruai and bio-degradable waste at Dandora dumpsite can be turned into power sources for the Eastlands part of Nairobi County, Kenya’s capital city.

The essence of clean energy is to minimize and edge out dependence on carbon fuels and other sources of energy that pollute the environment. Consequently, we should suspend indefinitely plans for both coal and nuclear production. The environmental damage caused by these two in other countries is self-evident.

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