Weekly wrap: Kenya faces climate-linked drought emergency

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Previous droughts in Kenya have killed livestock and hit crops (Pic: Flickr/Oxfam International)


Four million Kenyans will need humanitarian relief next month, UNICEF estimates, in the worst drought so far this century.

Researchers have found that in 2016 hot weather was made more likely by global warming, which worsened the effects of low rainfall.

Kenya’s Met Office is forecasting depressed rainfall across much of the country again this rainy season, which runs March to May. When rains fail, it hits crop production and food security, reports Hadra Ahmed from Nairobi.

The Kenyan government has allocated US$103 million to the emergency and the Red Cross is appealing for a further $9m.

Unfinished business

In South Africa, abandoned coal mines are an increasingly common sight as major companies walk away from their clean-up responsibilities.

Mark Olalde visited one farm scarred by an underground fire, heaps of waste and the rusting wreckage of mining equipment.

And he trawled through the government documents showing there is not enough contingency cash to rehabilitate exhausted sites.

Coal chokes

After a decade of rapid coal expansion, similar environmental crises loom across the world. But there were hopeful signs that boom is turning to bust in Coal Swarm data published this week.

The pipeline of pre-construction coal power plants halved in 2016, it found, while building work was halted on scores of projects worldwide.

A crackdown on excess capacity in China and financing barriers in India were behind the slowdown, analysts said – and it makes international climate goals look more attainable.

Smog warning

Beijing shut its last large coal power plant on Saturday, in a bid to clear the air.

Bad luck, then, that a thawing Arctic is bringing weather patterns to East China that make winter haze more likely.

That finding by researchers does not bode well for the 2022 Winter Olympics, due to take place in the Chinese capital.

Endangered reefs

Corals are feeling the heat around the world. Depressing reports of bleached reefs keep rolling in.

In the Maldives, divers and campaigners fear unchecked development is kicking the delicate ecosystems while they are down.

Two whistleblowers from the Environmental Protection Agency told Climate Home ministers were overruling ecological concerns in their haste to greenlight resorts and airports.

Carbon tangle

Norway has ambitious emission reduction targets but remains heavily dependent on oil revenue. It is about time to confront that paradox, argued Peter Erickson of Stockholm Environment Institute.

Virtually all proposed new ventures are expensive and surplus to requirements in a safe climate future, according to his analysis.

Clean futures

I was in Berlin this week for the government’s annual clean energy shindig (and a workshop on international climate journalism with Clean Energy Wire).

The German hosts of this year’s G20 had commissioned a joint report from the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency to inform the summit. So why couldn’t the two organisations agree on a future clean energy scenario – or a press release?

While the two institutions quibbled over whether to present decarbonising as a great economic opportunity or a tough challenge, the Potsdam Institute came out with a much simpler concept. Explained nicely by Vox, their roadmap would see energy emissions halved each decade.

Despite some mixed messages and a woeful lack of provision for the press, by its very existence the Berlin conference was a show of soft power. Hosted by the foreign office, it touted Energiewende as a matter of national pride – and political analysts expect that to hold regardless of who wins September’s general election.

Read more on: World