Climate Change and Arab Spring

We have all heard of climate change, either along the absolute denials on whether it is even occurring or the apocalyptic scenarios. At this stage, it is an irrefutable fact that climate change is occurring on a global scale, with the effects being experienced everywhere. Ranging from negative effects such as desertification, rising sea levels and numerous others to the occasional positive one such as the warming up of the temperate regions.  The causes have been hotly debated in various forums and by people who are more qualified academically and practically to discourse on the matter than the author of this article. Climate change has been charged with many numerous and insidious effects on the planet and human affairs in general, but how far-reaching are these effects? The economic, social and political structures. In this article, we shall explore the proposition that climate change can lead to massive political upheavals and specifically if climate change could have caused Arab Spring. Arab Spring is the widespread revolutions and protests that have rocked that Arab world.

There has been a wave of protests, riots and armed conflicts that has swept through the Arab world beginning on 18th December 2010 continuing to present day, with various revolutions accompanied by toppled governments and civil wars resulting from the Arab Spring. The following countries has their governments kicked out; Yemen, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt who kicked out two consecutive governments. Syria and Bahrain had major civil uprisings with the Syrian one presently considered a civil war. Riots have broken out in Jordan, Kuwait, Sudan, Morocco and Algeria with minor protests occurring in other Arab countries.

Arab Spring has  undoubtedly been motivated by mainly political reasons, to topple the tyrannical governments. The desire for freedom and recognizance of the right of the people seems to be the main drive behind the violence. In addition, the rampant economic problems afflicting the Arab world also played a key role in the uprisings. Unemployment, rising cost of living among many other led to the frustration of the people being taken out on their government.

Nonetheless, this article hopes to demonstrate a correlation if not causation between the Arab Spring and Climate change. To fully extrapolate on this issue, the article will attempt to show how the effect of climate on the global wheat production might have led to Arab Spring. It is important to note at this point that this article does not authoritatively state that Climate change led to global warming rather explore that as a possibility.

In 2010, the world’s wheat harvest was affected drastically by changing weather patterns that resulted in supply shortages globally. The changes seemed to have affected the main exporters of wheat globally. Cold and rainy weather in Canada – A drop in the harvest by 13.7 percent, Heat waves, Droughts and fires in Russia and Ukraine – A drop in the harvest by 32.7 percent and 19.3 percent respectively, Excessive rains in Australia – A drop in the harvest by 8.7 percent and to top it up Chinese consumption of wheat rose by 1.68 percent while their harvest dropped by 0.5 percent.

To be continued next week…..

By Muiruri Wanyoike


Parklands Greens


County Governments and the Environment


Human beings are dependent on the environment for their survival in the universe. A threat to the environment is not only a threat to the survival of the human race, but also a threat to the survival of life itself on this planet. Over the last two centuries, human activities have drastically reduced the forest cover, led to the rise of the sea level, a drastic reduction of the polar ice and the extinction of species of animals and plants that have existed for millions of years.

Just like a boomerang, the short term gratification that irresponsible actions gain from the environment is met with calamities and disasters that the human race could not contemplate a few decades ago. The principles of Eco-justice have been adopted by both National and supra-national organizations. The right to a clean and healthy environment has been recognized by the United Nations, the European Union and similar organizations. 177 countries have recognized the right to a clean environment through their constitutions as of 2012. Kenya adopted the right to a clean and safe environment, in 2010, through a constitutional referendum.

Environmental provisions in the constitution

The right to a clean and healthy environment is recognized in article 42 of the constitution of Kenya.  Every citizen has a right to have the environment utilized in a manner that benefits the current generation, as well as the future generations. The state is supposed to enact measures, either through legislative action or otherwise, to ensure that the constitutional obligations to the environment are met. An aggrieved citizen can sue the state or the party responsible under article 70(1) if the right to a clean and healthy environment is not met.

 Chapter five of the constitution of Kenya outlines the manner in which land and the environment shall be utilized. Chapter five has vested a heavy responsibility on the Legislative branch of the government to enact measures to ensure that the sustainable use of the environment. The responsibility to ensure that the environment is clean and healthy is also borne by every citizen. A breach of that right attracts a penalty from a court of law.

The National Government and the County Government

The national government has a greater responsibility in relation to the environment than the county government. However, the sovereign power of the people of Kenya is exercised both at the national level and the county level. The National Assembly is expected to enact the major legislation concerning the environment. In conformity with the principles of devolution, the county legislative assemblies are expected to come up with legislation on the environmental issues in their jurisdiction. The county assembly legislation should be in conformity the national legislation.



Obligations in Respect to the Environment

The obligations of the county governments are outlined in part two of the Fourth Schedule. According the fourth schedule, the county health service is responsible for the collection and the disposal of solid waste. The county governments have the responsibility of controlling air and noise pollution. The counties are also entitled with the responsibility of implementing the national government policies on soil and water conservation.

The major backlog of conserving the environment falls on the county government.  Air pollution and improper waste disposal are the greatest contributors of environmental degradation.  The county governments have been in operation for over a year, and a lot of focus has been placed on political control rather than meeting the constitutional obligations to the environment. The majority of the county government have absconded their duty in relation to the environment and have become the agents of environmental degradation.  The majority of the county government lack comprehensive policies on waste disposal.

The county governments have significantly failed to curb air pollution. The companies that day in day out emit toxic gases to the environments are either owned by politicians or their sycophants. Therefore, without a firm environmental policy on pollution, the county governments only appear as toothless dogs in the face of the companies that are responsible for the pollution of the environment.

The government is busy concentrating with solving the youth unemployment puzzle.  With sixteen million youths unemployed, part of their labour force can be directed to cleaning the environment and eliminating improper waste disposal. The county government of Nairobi has tirelessly tried to provide a healthy living and working environment.  Nevertheless, there are some streets in Nairobi City County that are dirtier than any other place in Kenya. The County government of Machakos has transformed the streets of Machakos city and its environs from garbage disposal sites to a clean business haven.


It is easy to be deluded that the responsibility to provide a clean and healthy environment falls to the county governments. The constitution makes it clear that every citizen has a duty to ensure that the environment is safe. The sovereign power of the people of Kenya is exercised by the organs of the state on behalf of the people of Kenya. If private citizens are irresponsible with the environment and neglect their obligations to the environment, the county governments will be unable to fulfil their constitutional obligations to the environment.

Francis James Kioko,

Parklands Greens- Parklands Campus,

School of LawUniversity of Nairobi



Most people would be forgiven for assuming that Kyoto is just a paper law in Kenyan terms whereas the truth in the ground couldn’t be further from the perception. For the newbies into the environmental law field, a verifiable mine field even for the old hands, Kyoto protocol refers to an   an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so. Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001. Kenya became a party in 2005.

Kenya has a developing country its emission were not curtailed as the level of its pollution was deemed to be low. As such our participation in the field usually consist of compliance to the mechanisms that are party to the protocol.

One of these mechanisms is International Emission trading where as set out in Article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol, it allows countries that have emission units to spare – emissions permitted them but not “used” – to sell this excess capacity to countries that are over their targets.Emission targets for developed countries are expressed as levels of allowed emissions or assigned amounts.These amounts are expressed in tonnes known informally as ‘Kyoto Units’. The unit of trade in the emission trading is known as carbon credits. As carbon financial instruments, they can be bought and sold in international markets at the prevailing market prices.Carbon credits are what are generated by developing parties and are bought by developed parties who have exceeded their assigned amounts.

There are two kinds of markets:
1.       the compliance market; and
2.       the voluntary markets.
In the Compliance Market, obligated parties are bound by the Protocol to buy carbon credits to offset their exceeded assigned amounts.
The Voluntary Market is mostly used by large multinational companies who do not have the obligation to offset any excess assigned amounts. However, they buy carbon credits because of their carbon footprint and for corporate social responsibility reasons.
 There are legislations operational in Kenya that establishes the legal framework for carbon trading. These are:
a)       The Constitution of Kenya (2010);
b)       Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“Kyoto Protocol”);
c)       Energy Act(No. 12 of 2006) and Energy Management Regulations (2012); and
d)      Environmental Management and Coordination Act (No. 8 of 1999) (EMCA)
(*for a detailed breakdown of how these laws apply please check
However its apposite to state that as of to the publicly available information Kenya is yet to initiate or carry out any recorded carbon trading. As such the government ought to be cognizant that as a country we have an untapped resource (call it an export if you may) that may be beneficial in the long run if keen interest and political will is given to it.
                 The second mechanism is what is referred to as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which is an arrangement made under the Kyoto protocol which creates emissions reduction credits through emissions reduction projects in developing countries. CDM projects can benefit emitters in industrialized countries with a GHG reduction commitment (Annex I countries) by allowing them to invest in emission reducing projects as an alternative to the more expensive emission reductions in their own countries.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), defined in Article 12 of the Protocol, allows a country with an emission-reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol (Annex B Party) to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries. Such projects can earn saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto targets.The mechanism is seen by many as a trailblazer. It is the first global, environmental investment and credit scheme of its kind, providing a standardized emission offset instrument, CERs.

A CDM project activity might involve, for example, a rural electrification project using solar panels or the installation of more energy-efficient boilers. The mechanism stimulates sustainable development and emission reductions, while giving industrialized countries some flexibility in how they meet their emission reduction or limitation targets.In Kenya the following projects could attract CDM projects:

: Projects that could attract CDM investments

Sector Project/Activity
Energy Supply · Gas-fired power generation

· Hydro-electricity to replace coal-fired power stations

· Co-generation (biomass or fossil-fuel based)

· Renewable electricity (e.g. wind, photovoltaic, biomass) and other renewable energy (e.g. biogas)

· Use of forest and agricultural wastes to generate electricity and heat

Manufacturing · Conversion of boilers from fuel oil to gas /sustainably grown wood

· Industrial energy efficiency

· Structural change to less energy – and emissions-intensive industries

Mining · Industrial energy efficiency

· Reduction of methane emissions from coal mines

· Control of coal dump fires

Agriculture and forestry · Afforestation and reforestation
Transport and Communications · Improved public transport

· Improved urban planning and traffic management

· Improved vehicle efficiency

· Vehicle fuel switching from road to rail transport

Residential, commercial and government buildings · Energy-efficient appliances

· Solar water heating

· Fuel switching in households and commercial boilers

· Energy efficient building design

· Energy management

Copyright © 2013 The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) . All Rights Reserved.
The following are the CDM projects under validation in Kenya:

Project Title


Reductions *

Sondu Miriu Hydro Power Project. ACM0002 ver. 6 211,068
Olkaria II Geothermal Expansion Project ACM0002 ver. 6 171,026
> Conversion of the Kipevu Open Cycle Gas Turbine to a Combined Cycle Operation Project ACM0007 ver. 3 44,808
Redevelopment of Tana Hydro Power Station Project ACM0002 ver. 7 42,258
Optimisation of Kiambere Hydro Power Project ACM0002 ver. 7 38,376
6 MW Bagasse Based Cogeneration Project by Muhoroni Sugar Company Limited ACM0006 ver. 6
ACM0002 ver. 7
Olkaria III Phase 2 Geothermal Expansion Project in Kenya ACM0002 ver. 8 171,265
Increasing the Blend in Cement Production at East African Portland Cement Company Limited ACM0005 ver. 4 105,593
Aberdare Range / Mt. Kenya Small Scale Reforestation Initiative – Kirimara-Kiriti Small Scale A/R Project AR-AMS0001 ver. 5 7,526
Aberdare Range / Mt. Kenya Small Scale Reforestation Initiative – Gathiuru-Kiamathege Small Scale A/R Project AR-AMS0001 ver. 5 7,026
Aberdare Range / Mt. Kenya Small Scale Reforestation Initiative – Karuri Small Scale A/R Project AR-AMS0001 ver. 5 15,364
Aberdare Range / Mt. Kenya Small Scale Reforestation Initiative – Kabaru-Thigu-Mugunda Small Scale A/R Project AR-AMS0001 ver. 5 4,737
Reforestation, sustainable development and carbon sequestration project in Kenyan degraded lands AR-ACM0001 ver. 3 48,689
Lake Turkana 310 MW Wind Power Project ACM0002 ver. 11 728,483
“6 MW Bagasse Based Cogeneration Project” by Muhoroni Sugar Company Limited AMS-I.D. ver. 16 15,076
2.1 MW Vinasse Based Electricity Generation at Mumias Sugar Company Limited AMS-I.C. ver. 18 10,552
Replacement of Fossil Fuel by Biomass in a Crude Palm Oil (CPO) Refinery at BIDCO’s Thika facility in Kenya AMS-I.C. ver. 18 23,827
Installation of Cogeneration plant by utilizing the Biomass based Boiler with a capacity of 20 TPH at BIDCO Oil Refineries Limited, Kenya AMS-I.C. ver. 18 53,034
40 MW Bagasse Based Cogeneration at West Kenya Sugar Limited ACM0006 ver. 11 107,927
5.1MW Grid Connected Wind Electricity Generation at Ngong Hills, Kenya. AMS-I.D. ver. 17 12,189
Energy efficiency improvement project through modification of heat exchanger network at Kenya Petroleum Refineries Ltd AMS-II.D. ver. 12 9,100
Corner Baridi Wind Farm ACM0002 ver. 12 111,676
Karan Biofuel CDM project – Bioresidues briquettes supply for industrial steam production in Kenya   AMS-I.C. ver. 19 39,173
Olkaria I Units 4&5 Geothermal Project ACM0002 ver. 12 628,451

* Emission reductions in metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum that are based on the estimates provided by the project participants in unvalidated PDDs

As such both mechanism can clearly be seen to be feasible and practical in Kenya and are not a piped dream. However its a pre-requisite that we as the generation that is for change be aware of their existence before we can be able to benefit from them and as such keen interest and capacity building to the youth and all members of the society is called for. Kyoto Protocol is practical in Kenya but we must endeavor to effectuate it.

As shown by the absence of any acknowledged International Emission Trading activity between Kenya and other parties to the Protocol government commitment is needed for the benefits of the protocol to be reaped and to trickle down to the common mwananchi. The will is not lacking as illustrated in the CDM implementation only that its inadequate and ought to be all round.

( This article has quoted liberally from the NEMA website and a blog by the Strategic legal Solutions Group blog at

This Article is by a member of the Parklands Greens, Nkarichia Mugambi Dennis.