By Watmore Makokoba
On 1 June 2017 the United States announced that it was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement signed by most developed countries towards combating climate change.
According to US President Donald Trump, the decision was a preventive measure to make sure resources are “devoted to the betterment of the American people first”.
Industrialised countries had pledged $10.3 billion since 2013 to help poorer countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address effects of climate change. The US had pledged $3 billion, an amount twice to that of Japan which comes second on the list.
During a Science Debate session in September 2016, Trump indicated the US government was not going to waste resources on ‘climate change’ but would devote to increased food production, provision of clean water, fighting diseases and developing alternative energy sources.
Charlene Hewat, chief executive officer of Environment Africa, said while the US’s decision would result in some of the pledged funds not getting to developing countries, support coming in from other stakeholders would still go a long way in combatting climate change.
“I think it is really very sad and short-sighted for America because climate change is real and is hitting hard and it will affect everyone. We are, however, glad that there are other supporting partners coming on board to help out, but somewhere down the line they will have to come on board,” said Hewat.
It is argued that addressing climate change is about collectively harnessing resources, technology and ideas to sustainably and inclusively combat its effects in a win-win situation.
This comes at a time when scientists are trying to get people to wake up to the dangers of rising sea levels due to climate change. According to the Washington Post, New York, Boston, San Francisco and Miami, risk severe flooding from sea level rises due to climate change.
HIVOS, an international organisation that promotes equality, tolerance, democracy and sustainable development, condemned Trump’s decision as discordant with reality.
In a statement released after the decision, HIVOS said:
“Trump’s withdrawal doesn’t stop the other countries from adhering to the Agreement. On the contrary, it spurred countless counter responses from governments and (the) private sector that shows the Agreement, which is ratified by 147 out of the 197 signatory countries, is bigger than a single leader and countries are determined to move forward with climate action.
“New pledges and reaffirmations of commitments show that climate action is stronger than ever and that states and businesses continue to drive progress towards a sustainable future for both people and planet.”