Thursday, June 08, 2017

US withdrawal from Paris accord not to change anything: environmental activist

The withdrawal by the United States from the Paris Agreement "will not change anything" on the efficiency of the climate change multi-lateral agreement, a climate justice campaigner said on Wednesday.
The US has never been a "climate leader" and its departure will pave to new dynamics, Samuel Chademana, Groundwork's Climate and Energy Justice Campaign Manager, said in an interview with Xinhua.

Groundwork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of climate & energy justice, coal, environmental health, global green and healthy hospitals, and waste.

Chademana said that if history is anything to go by, the US is the biggest greenhouse gas emitter and source of almost a third of the global carbon emissions.

Furthermore, Washington was very effective in weakening the Kyoto Protocol consistently using its political influence and its power in the climate negotiations, although it was not a party to the protocol, Chademana said.

"So the departure of USA does not really change anything in as far as the effectiveness of the climate change multi-lateral agreement is concerned," Chademana said.

"The world now needs new leaders, both at the international and local levels and have no doubt that the departure of the US will give room to a whole new set of dynamics but the work will proceed," he added.

Like other African countries, South Africa's response to its United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commitments are not directly influenced by the departure of the US, Chademana said.

"These are set determinants which are not affected by the departure of the US, so South Africa remains bound by these requirements," he said.

South Africa will not change its policies towards climate change, he added.

Chademana urged local governments, non-governmental organizations and the whole society to work together at a local level to make sure that technology for renewable energy is owned at a local level so that the renewable energy process does not end up as another privatized venture for corporate capital.

Energy production and distribution systems should be decentralized and ownership made feasible for the poor in the country, and this is a role that the NGO sector can play, he added.

US President Donald Trump said last Thursday that he has decided to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, a landmark global pact to fight climate change.

The US will cease honoring non-binding parts of the deal "as of today (June 1)," Trump said, adding that his administration will also cease implementation of the "draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country."

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