ECA's Murombedzi: 'US withdrawal from Paris Agreement will impact developing nations'

French Foreign Minister UN Secretary General Ban and French President Hollande Raise Their Hands After Representatives of 196 Countries Approved a Sweeping Environmental Agreement at COP21 in Paris 23076185The celebrations after 196 countries signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2015. (Image source: US Department of State/Commons)Mr. Murombedzi said in joining other countries in 2015 in promising to curb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, the US was leading from the front 

The withdrawal of the United States from Paris Agreement will have massive implications on US support to the financing of climate actions in the developing world, says James Murombedzi, Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

In a presentation on the implications of America’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement at an event held in Addis Ababa Tuesday, Mr. Murombedzi said in joining other countries in 2015 in promising to curb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, the US was leading from the front.

But, he said, with the recent announcement by the Trump administration withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement, the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases was abdicating its responsibilities and commitments.

As a leader in the world economy and technological innovation, the US had pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund and was going to lead efforts with others to develop ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change and make communities more resilient to climate change.

“Thus the withdrawal will not only entail the potential impacts of USA GHG emissions on the global environment, but also the implications of the withdrawal of USA support to the financing of climate actions in the developing world,” said Mr. Murombedzi.

The US withdrawal from the agreement is informed, at least in part, by the powerful interests of the fossil fuels lobby seeking enhanced profits from their investments in fossil fuels, he said.

In withdrawing the US from the agreement, the Trump administration undertook to roll back "job-destroying" environmental regulations and to save fossil fuel jobs. 

Despite global efforts to shift the sustainable development trajectory towards cleaner energy systems, vested fossil fuel interests remain dominant in policy in many countries both developed and developing.

“The US has great difficulty crafting public policy to control private interests in climate change,” said Mr. Murombedzi, adding Mr. Trump’s decision laid bare this basic truth and calls for scholarly engagement to understand what this new found position of strength of the private sector, means for global climate policy.

He said the world will not be able to avoid climate change if countries continued to rely on fossil fuels for their energy needs, adding investment must shift towards clean alternatives if things were to change for the better.

Shifting government support away from fossil fuel production and towards alternatives was an important means to achieve this objective, said Mr. Murombedzi.

“However, the fossil fuel interests exert considerable influence over public policy in the US and other countries,” he said.

“The Paris Agreement should identify mechanisms to compel countries to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, by reducing fossil fuels subsidies and incentives.”

Mr. Murombedzi said a key issue that needs to be addressed in climate governance was the question of justice, which he said was silent in all the major global development frameworks.

ECA’s Special Initiatives Division Director, Fatima Denton, said; “It is critical that we prepare to enter a new world that is warming. Humanity must in addition quickly learn how to make a radical transformation that allows growth without increasing emissions.”

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