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Carbon Trading Markets in Kenya

By David Okul

Human-induced climate change is a major environmental problem in the modern world. The emergence of the Kyoto Protocol and its mechanism of carbon trading is thought to be a viable solution in addressing climate change. Kenya is among the African countries that are keen to explore the opportunities with carbon trade.  

As a developing country, Kenya isn’t required to curb its emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. However, it is eligible to sell carbon credits through the mechanisms identified by the protocol under Article 17. Similarly, Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (that replaced the Kyoto Protocol) recognizes carbon trading as a tool in fighting climate change.

Policy Backing of Carbon Trade in Kenya

Developing countries face legal hurdles in attempts to implement international treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol. In Kenya, the policy backing for carbon trading can be categorized into international laws and national laws as outlined below:

  1. International laws
  • Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • The Paris Agreement: Though controversial, Article 6 of the Paris Agreement outlines the rules for carbon markets and other international cooperation.
  1. National Laws
  • Constitution of Kenya 2010- Article 2(6) outlines the international treaties Kenya is a signatory to. Further, article 42 articulates that Kenyans have a right to a clean environment.
  • Energy Act 2019: indicates the desire to promote the development of clean energy and CDM
  • EMCA: Has no specific mention of carbon trading, but it promotes sustainable development in Kenya.
  • Climate Change Act 2016: the act establishes National Climate Change Council and Climate Change Fund
  • Forestry Conservation and Management Act: Although it doesn’t mention climate change, it recognizes the roles of forests in carbon sequestration
  • National Policy on Carbon Investments and Emissions Trading (2012) by the Ministry of Finance

Carbon trading projects in Kenya

Carbon projects can fall under either the compliance or the voluntary markets. The clean development mechanism (CDM) is the most common compliance market. Under the Paris Agreement, which came into effect on 1st January 2020, CDMs are referred to as Sustainable Development Mechanisms (SDM).

Compliance carbon projects in Kenya

As of March 2021, forty-two CDM mechanisms had been registered in Kenya

The first CDM project in Kenya was the sugarcane bagasse power generation plant at Mumias Sugar Company.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KENGEN) has several projects registered with CDM including:

  • Kiambere Hydro Power Project
  • Tana Hydro Power Station Project
  • Ngong Hills Wind Power
  • Olkaria I, II, and IV Geothermal projects

A digital database of registered CDMS can be found in the UNFCCC DM registry

Voluntary Carbon Projects in Kenya

A majority of the voluntary carbon projects in Kenya are in the forestry sector under REDD+. Examples include:

  • Kasigau Corridor REDD Project (Rukinga Sanctuary)
  • Kasigau Corridor REDD Project (Community ranches)
  • Mikoko Pamoja Mangrove
  • International Small Group & Tree Planting Programme (TIST)
  • Mount Kenya Small Scale Reforestation
  • Forest Again (Kakamega Forest)
  • Chyulu Hills REDD+ Project

Apart from forestry, energy-efficient cookstoves and water filters projects also have a number of carbon trading initiatives. Additionally, agricultural and soil organic carbon projects are also gaining traction.

  • Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project
  • NRT carbon project

It Makes Sense for Kenya to develop its Carbon Trade

A comprehensive list of REDD+ projects in Kenya can be found in the International Database of REDD+ Projects and Programmes

Similarly, some companies in Kenya are voluntarily measuring and offsetting their carbon. For instance, in 2011, Kenya Airways launched a carbon offset program for its passengers from geothermal projects in Kenya.

A significant proportion of Kenya is natural and some is conserved. It would make sense to quantify the environmental services provided by the various lands. Consequently, more areas legible for carbon trading should be identified to further increase the benefit of conservation to local communities.

David Okul is an environmental management professional with over 10 years experience on donor projects, conservation, forestry, ecotourism, and community-based natural resources management. When not working on  environmental projects, I spend my time writing for Silvica on a variety of topics. The view in this blog are personal and do not represent the organizations that he is associated with.