U.S. decision on Paris Agreement only strengthens civil society resolve on climate action

South Africa Climate Action Network
Media release
7 June 2017

U.S. decision on Paris Agreement only strengthens civil society resolve on climate action

The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is in total discord with the rest of the world, say members of South Africa Climate Action Network. The U.S. president’s action is disappointing, but it cannot overturn the collective agreement by the world’s governments to do what is needed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

“The Paris Agreement is a critical step towards avoiding catastrophic climate change, and the announcement by the Trump Administration that the U.S. will be abandoning the Paris Agreement clearly indicates that the United States is no longer participating in the global effort to address climate change,” said Happy Khambule, Climate & Energy Political Advisor, Greenpeace Africa. “Greenpeace believes that despite the Trump administration’s announcement, it is becoming crystal clear that the global community will forge ahead with a climate regime that protects people and the planet, leaving the USA behind. Indeed, the momentum and inevitability of climate action and the rolling out of renewable energy is clearly unstoppable.”

Many countries depend on U.S. funds to help them finance climate action and adapt to the impacts they are already experiencing from climate change. Many of these countries, and the global institutions set up to direct funds to them, will feel the pain of Trump’s promises to slash climate funding. This is an area where other countries will have to move in to fill the gap.

“The White House decision to begin withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is not the end of the world,” said Gillian Hamilton, Branch Manager at the Africa Climate Reality Project. “The decision – while deeply disappointing – is a setback, but at a time when major economies all along the development spectrum – from Germany to China to India to Brazil – remain firmly committed to cutting emissions and expanding renewables as part of honouring their pledges, momentum is with us and progress will continue. With or without the White House.”

Despite the U.S. decision, the Paris Agreement’s ambition raising mechanisms remain in place and a clear direction has been set. Signatory countries’ climate pledges will continue to grow more and more ambitious over time to meet the scale of the challenge, with no backtracking.

South Africa’s government has also reaffirmed the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.

“South Africa has full confidence in and reiterates its unwavering commitment to the realization of the goals set out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement. The global effort to curb climate change and address its impacts cannot be postponed. There is an urgent need for action, and as such there is no space for renegotiation,” said a statement from the Department of Environmental Affairs.

SA Climate Action Network welcomes this stance and urges government to match its words with immediate, ambitious action to direct state-owned Eskom to abandon polluting power sources and accelerate the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement programme.

“The onus is now stronger than ever for South Africa to take control of its own destiny and to plan and implement a just transition to a low carbon economy,” said Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa. “We know that per unit of power, new solar and wind power stations now offer electricity at cheaper rates than new coal power stations – no decision made in another capital should undermine our commitment to our nation’s future well-being.”

For media queries, contact
Janet Kachinga
071 774 8210

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