Africa condemns Donald Trump exit of Paris Agreement

US President-elect Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. Photo/Courtesy

United States President Donald Trump has confirmed that the US will quit the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to “negotiate a fairer deal” for his nation, which is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses.

“In order to fulfil my solemn duty to the United States and its citizens, the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accords or a really entirely new transaction, on terms that are fair to the United States,” the US president told the press at the White House on Thursday.

“We will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair, if we can, that’s great. If we can’t, that’s fine,” he said.

Reacting to the announcement, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance Secretary General Mithika Mwenda noted that with Trump’s decision the buck now stops with all the citizens of the world to ensure that global warming is kept at under 1.5 degrees Celsius and to hold their governments responsible for their fair share of climate action.

“With the plan by Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, people power and international solidarity are the only hope we have of averting an unimaginable climate crisis which will fan the flames of every existing inequality and injustice. It will take all of us around the world, organising together, to hold the historic emitters like the U.S. under the watch of Donald Trump to account and ensure our governments also do their fair share of climate action in the next four years to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. Trump’s decision doesn’t change that.”

PACJA Secretary General Mithika Mwenda. Photo/COURTESY
PACJA Secretary General Mithika Mwenda. Photo/COURTESY

The US now joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not party to the Paris Agreement struck in 2015.

Soon after the announcement, Germany, Italy, and France issued a joint statement saying the Paris Agreement could not be re-negotiated.

“We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Emmanuel Macron, and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Trump’s decision risks destabilizing the Paris deal, with remaining participants faced with the choice of trying to make up the shortfall in emissions cuts or following the US’s lead and abandoning the agreement.

The US emissions reduction pledge accounts for a fifth of the global emissions to be avoided by 2030, with an analysis by not-for-profit group Climate Interactive showing that a regression to “business as usual” emissions by the US could warm the world by an additional 0.3C by 2100. This would help push the global temperature rise well beyond 2C, causing punishing heat waves, sea level rise, displacement of millions of people and the loss of ecosystems such as coral reefs.

The World Meteorological Organisation announced that 2016 was the hottest year on record and a new high for the third year in a row.

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Story By Wangui Ngechu
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