SA joins storm over US quitting Paris climate accord
THE South African government has issued a strongly worded rebuke to the US over its withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate accord, describing the decision as “not only an abdication of global responsibility we all have to humankind” but “damaging to multilateralism, the rule of law and trust between nations”.
“Climate change is the single biggest threat to human well-being, health and socio-economic development this century and its impacts are widespread, unprecedented and disproportionately burdens to the poorest and most vulnerable,” said the Department of Environmental Affairs yesterday.
The Paris climate agreement, the first global plan to address climate change, “reflects the multilateral agreement” to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C. Its adoption, 15 years after the withdrawal of the US from the Kyoto Protocol, was a victory for multilateral efforts to curb the impacts of a warming planet and “reflects the scientific consensus on the severity of the crisis”. It represented the most flexible and dynamic approach to addressing climate change.
“Historically, the US has contributed significantly to global emissions, and therefore has a moral obligation not only to lead in reducing emissions but to support poorer economies in contributing to the global effort… There is an urgent need for action, and as such there is no space for renegotiation.”
It recognised the “outstanding contribution” made to the fight against climate change in the US by past administrations, states, cities, scientific organisations, civil society, business and individual citizens.
“South Africa therefore calls on the US to reconsider its position and to re-commit to the multilateral process.”
Greenpeace Africa executive director Njeri Kabeberi said: “The millions of people living on the African continent are on the frontlines of climate change, and it is critical that polluters are held accountable for the suffering and injustice global warming is already inflicting.
“Climate change impacts are already a daily reality, and action to stop catastrophic climate change cannot be delayed.
“Our global community will take action, and is already taking action, with or without the US government, and it is critical that major emitters like South Africa step up and take a leadership role.”
WWF-SA said that “even in a developing country like South Africa it is becoming clear that the transition to a low-carbon society is inevitable”.
“The US withdrawing from the Paris agreement will delay the transition and could lead to temperatures peaking at higher levels, with concurrent climate change impacts on millions of people, but it cannot stop the economic transformation that is already under way.”
The US joins Nicaragua, which has not signed because it does not believe the Paris accord is ambitious enough, and wartorn Syria, as the only countries outside the accord.