Signatories to the Paris climate accord have been urged to step up their support for global climate change mitigation efforts, in the light of the United States’ regression in its support for such efforts under President Donald Trump.
According to Bill McKibben, Co-Founder of 350.org, a grassroots climate campaign based in the US, the rest of the world now had to choose one of two options in the light of President Trump’s stance on climate change.
The American administration, under President Donald Trump has been cutting down on its commitments to address climate change, which President Trump has openly described as a hoax. There is currently a potential that Trump would withdraw America from the Paris Climate Accord.
Mr McKibben said most Americans were opposed to President Trump’s stance and actions on climate change issues, with about 200,000 people marching in Washington DC to resist Trump on these issues. “He may withdraw America from the Paris climate accord. If that happens, the rest of the world has a choice, it has one of two options: it can either say if American won’t work on this, we don’t have to work on this either.”
He noted, however, that this choice would mean that climate change would continue to progress with the poorest countries being the hardest hit by the situation. “The other option for the rest of the world, is to say ‘we’re going to step up now that it’s clear America is stepping down on these issues and we’re going to do more because we have no choice’ and I hope that that’s what happens,” he stated.
Mr McKibben said there were some signs that some countries were beginning to step in the void in climate change leadership created by President Trump’s administration, but maintained that there was also a temptation for other leaders to use Donald Trump as cover for not doing anything. He urged other world leaders to demonstrate more commitment to addressing climate change saying: “it is a real moment for the rest of the world to demonstrate that the United States is not the most important country in the world and that the world can figure out how to do things even when the US is going backwards”.
He also stressed the need to harness the power of people at the grassroots as well as Civil Society Organisations to push for leaders to prioritise renewable energy and climate change mitigation. He said in order for Africa, the most affected by climate change to catch up with other parts of the world, it would have to aim for 100 percent renewable energy in the shortest possible time.
Speaking with the GNA after the conference, Miss Lerato Letebele, Communication Coordinator at 350 Africa/ Arab World, said due to is work in campaigning against the use of fossil fuels, it was seen as anti-development.“We’re constantly trying to convince government that we’re not anti-development, we want the continent to develop but it’s up to us to chart our own development path,” she said.
She noted that governments in Africa were mostly motivated by monetary and other benefits from companies, to support the use of fossil fuels instead of renewable energy, and urged leaders to tread cautiously and commended 350 G-Roc for their hard work and success in halting the coal plant proposed in the central region last year.