African Union official calls on US to rejoin pact
Summit stresses need for cooperation on climate, praises China’s commitment
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The African Union is calling upon the United States to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, saying the recent US withdrawal negatively affects Africa’s vulnerable agriculture sector, said Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for rural economy and agriculture.
The AU official was speaking to the press on Saturday during the 29 th AU summit in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, where she said the pan-African bloc has taken various measures to promote sustainable natural resource management and mitigate impacts of climate change.
In June, US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of his country from the milestone agreement.
Responding to a question regarding the impact of the US exit on agriculture in Africa, Sacko said, “of course, it will affect certain programs”. However, she said African nations are determined to follow the accord and that the US exit will not stop its implementation.
She noted that Africa set the pace in the adoption of the Paris climate change deal at the 21st session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and made enormous contributions to the outcomes of the COP 22 meeting held in Marrakech, Morocco.
Africa, which is said to be the least contributor to global warming and carbon emission, suffers most from climatic change and its adverse effects.
Underling the need to employ collaborative efforts to deal with climate change, the AU commissioner hailed Chi- na’s commitment to addressing the challenges of climate change.
The commissioner said the drought in East Africa and the fall armyworm, in particular, are the major challenges facing Africa at present.
Suffering from drought
An estimated 16 million people are suffering from the worst drought in decades in East and Horn of Africa while in the coming months, many more will be needing humanitarian aid and being displaced due to the poor rains, according to data from the UN Inter- national Organization Migration in June.
To make things worse, an outbreak of fall armyworm has been reported in 25 African countries and is still spreading, having infested 1.5 million hectares of crops, mainly maize, the staple food of many Africans, Sacko said, adding the AU is taking steps to develop mechanism to support its member states in addressing the “unprecedented” infestation.
To address challenges in the agriculture sector and achieve food security, the official also expressed the AU’s keen inter- for est in strengthening cooperation with China.
“We are going to work more because China has a lot of experience in agriculture. We can get a lot of opportunities. We are looking forward, during my tenure, to strengthen the cooperation in the sector of agriculture,” she said.
“We need to strengthen the department, to assure that Africa’s food security is in control and in terms of the climate change issue, we can also partner with China.”
hectares of crops, mainly maize, have been infested by an armyworm outbreak in Africa.