Under new landmark legislation passed by Kenyan lawmakers, profits from clean air projects will be granted to citizens most affected by the effects of Earth’s rising temperatures.
Communities will receive 40% of the profits generated by land-based air pollution reduction initiatives in their local area, and 25% of the money raised by water-based investments, such as the planting of mangrove forests, will also be diverted.
This move sees Kenya doubling down on its commitment to carbon tax credits. The country currently generates more offsets than any other African nation — a quarter of the African market exists in Kenya, reported France 24.
The African Carbon Market Initiative projects that credits in Kenya could increase to a value of around $600 million annually, per the outlet (though there is some question about the likelihood of this projection).
The funds are already making some headway in communities across Kenya. According to the United Nations, Mikoko Pamoja — a “blue carbon” project that aims to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by planting mangroves — has invested money into clean water supplies, schools, and hospitals in the Gazi Bay village.
By formalizing this siphoning of profits into law, Kenyan authorities can ensure that the carbon tax credits market benefits individuals suffering the brunt of extreme weather events. Around 95% of families in northern Kenya rely on farming for income, an industry now reckoning with drastic drought conditions brought on by four failed rain seasons.
Worsening droughts, floods, and disease outbreaks have all been linked to our planet’s warming and disproportionately affect communities already living in poverty.
Kenyan President William Ruto recently asserted the economic potential of the carbon tax credit market, which could help to alleviate some of that strain while financing more sustainable infrastructure, according to France 24.
“They have the potential to absorb millions of tons of CO2 annually, which should translate into billions of dollars,” he said of Kenya’s offsetting projects.
“The private sector really remains an untapped opportunity that now must be seized,” Patricia Scotland, secretary-general of the Commonwealth of 56 countries, told Reuters. “If you look at what we’ve got on thermal energy, on solar, on wind, on hydro, this is a powerhouse just waiting to be unleashed.”
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