February 12, 2013

Report: Multi Sectoral Consultative Dialogue on What is Next for the Climate Change Bill, 7th February 2013


Introduction

 As the title suggests, this meeting was held to chart the way forward on what to do with the Climate Change Bill, which the President declined to assent to. Representatives for stakeholders interested in this Bill were also present. The main agenda was to understand what really led to the rejection of this crucial Bill by the President, and what the next steps to be taken were.

What really happened?

Hon. Wilbur Ottichillo, MP for Emuhaya, was best placed to explain why the Bill was rejected. Visibly agitated, the MP took the audience through the detailed process it took to get the Bill passed y Parliament. He was also very blunt when it came to pointing out what may have been the major reason why the President rejected the Bill. It is important to note that the President’s reason for declining to assent to the Bill was due to lack of participation. It was noted that the Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG) together with other stakeholders, had held participatory consultative meetings all over the country for 21/2 years, and every stakeholder had been involved.

Also, the MP pointed out to the fact that the initial name of the Bill was the Climate Change Authority Bill. He stated that there had been concerns in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources that this Bill would establish a Climate Change Authority that would be autonomous, much like a Parastatal; this, however, was not the case. This was manifested through the recommendation to have the initial name of the Bill changed from the Climate Change Authority Bill to the Climate Change Bill.

Legal Opinion

Since there were quite a number of legal issues to be considered, the Executive Director of the International Committee of Jurists, Mr. George Kegoro, took the audience through the available legal options.

One of the most outstanding issues was the fact that the President had rejected the Bill on grounds on procedure – lack of public participation – rather than content, as Article 115 of the Constitution of Kenya directs. Based on this premise, the following suggestions were put forth:

·      To seek a legal interpretation and opinion from the Attorney General
·      To restart the process of passing the Bill in Parliament since it was now no longer valid
·      To inform the public on why the Bill was rejected and the way forward, before tabling it in Parliament


Which should come first? The chicken (climate change bill) or the egg (climate policy)?

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, through its representative, acknowledged that it was involved in the entire process. The Ministry also highlighted the fact that it had just completed working on the Kenya Climate Action Plan and was ready to implement it. Also, the Ministry hinted that it favoured a climate policy instead of a comprehensive legislation on the same by stating that it was important first to have a climate policy in place before working on a comprehensive climate change. This was viewed to be against the mood of the gathered stakeholders, since it was akin to throwing away three years of work that went into coming up with the climate change bill.

Opinions from the floor

Some important points came to the fore from the audience during the plenary session:

·      The subsequent Climate Change Bill should be combed trough to make sure that it adheres to all set standards so that it passes through Parliament without hiccups
·      There was a call for the stakeholders involved to come up with a technical Steering Committee to work on the way forward for this Bill
·      There was also an opinion that the Bill should be aligned with County government policies so as to make sure that it is relevant
·      It was laos noted that a Ministry will not be able to introduce a Bill in the new Bi-cameral parliament
·      There was consensus that efforts to have a Climate Change Bill should not wane, but should be renewed and strengthened.

Youth Perspective

It would be important to have a youth focal point in the Technical Steering Committee that is working on the way forward for the Climate Change Bill; lobbying to this effect is ongoing.

Conclusion

It is important that as youth, we should contribute to this process in a greater manner than before, since climate change is a phenomenon that will affect our and future generations the most.

Compiled by: Kennedy Liti Mbeva



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