It’s that time of year when world leaders congregate for the Conference of the Parties, this year held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. This is the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) since inception. Faced with an intensifying energy crisis, record greenhouse gas concentrations, and an increase in extreme weather events, COP27 seeks renewed international solidarity to reaffirm countries’ commitments to people and the planet.
The COP27 will reflect on the outcomes of COP26 to deliver action on critical issues to tackle the climate emergency, by urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilience and adapting to the unavoidable effects of climate change, and delivering on commitments to finance climate action in developing countries.
One of this year’s missions is mitigation, which dictates that we must band together to keep global warming well below 2°C and to work hard to keep the 1.5°C target alive. This necessitates bold and immediate action, as well as increased ambition on the part of all parties, particularly those in a position to do so and those who can and do lead by example.
It is interesting, however, to note that even though Africa contributes an insignificant amount to global warming, the continent has borne the brunt of climate change. According to the State of the Climate in Africa report, released by the World Metrological Organization (WMO), Africa only accounts for about 2% to 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions but suffers disproportionately from the results.
According to the report – a joint initiative between WMO and the African Union Commission – Africa warmed at an average rate of around +0.3°C/decade between 1991 and 2021, faster than the warming from 1961-1990, at +0.2°C/decade. In fact, the year 2021 was among the warmest years on record for Africa.
Sea level rise is another issue highlighted in the report. It is a major concern especially along the African coastlines, currently higher than the global mean rate. Without the necessary interventions, it is estimated that by 2030, 108-116 million people in Africa will be exposed to sea level rise risks.
Even more relatable is drought in East Africa, which has worsened, leaving more than 58 million people in conditions of acute food insecurity. In the past 50 years, drought-related hazards have claimed the lives of over half a million people and led to economic losses of over 70 billion USD in Africa.
It therefore goes without saying that a healthy planet is necessary for humanity and in turn, businesses to thrive. This puts Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations at the forefront of business decisions, supported by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and increased awareness of the climate emergency.
At EABL, investing in environmental sustainability is core to the future growth of our business and imperative to our ambition to become the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer products company in the world.
We have develop a sustainability strategy that drives our actions to protect the environment. Dubbed Society 2030: Spirt of Progress, it has three pillars that we must prioritise in this Decade of Action. One of the pillars is Accelerating Grain to Glass Sustainability, under which we have Accelerate to a Low-Carbon World as a focus area.
This pillar guides our actions toward creating a sustainable low-carbon future and protecting the environment. Our objective is to become Net Zero in our direct operations (Scope 1&2 emissions) by 2030.
To this end, EABL has invested KSh 4.5 billion in biomass power to replace heavy oil fuel with sustainable raw materials such as bamboo, macadamia husks, coffee husks, bagasse and rice husks at our plants in Kenya and Uganda.
The shift is expected to contribute to a 95% reduction in carbon emissions, which is about 42,000 tonnes a year. This is spread across Kisumu (8,000 tonnes), Nairobi (26,000 tonnes) and Kampala (8,000 tonnes).
Beyond decarbonizing own operations, we are also working with suppliers to help them accelerate their journey towards net zero by partnering with them on the circular design. This will reduce our indirect carbon emissions by a further 50%.
The success of these initiatives confirms our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and addressing climate change and is a constant reminder that we have a responsibility to grow our business sustainably and create shared value.
To achieve much more and on a bigger scale as a country, we have to bring everyone on board. It is important that all of us; the national and local governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations, deliver a coordinated response to the climate emergency.