US withdrawal a cruel blow

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-United States president Donald Trump’s controversial decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement has caused anger and anxiety across the globe, and Namibia feels this move will negatively affect climate change efforts.

Trump shocked all-and-sundry when he withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement saying he wanted to renegotiate a “fair” deal for the US in line with the electoral promises he made that he wants to ‘Make America Great Again.’

The accord that came to fruition during the tenure of former American President Barack Obama has been signed by 195 countries and ratified by 147 globally.

Late last week the US leader removed the US from the agreement to the dismay of many European allies, China and other signatories.

Virtually every country in the world signed the agreement in an attempt to limit global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,

In reaction to Trump’s decision, Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta on Monday said the Namibian ministry of environment ministry was saddened by the withdrawal of the US from the Climate Change Accord.

Shifeta noted the accord provided for any party to the agreement to withdraw at any given time.

Nevertheless, he felt the sudden withdrawal of the United States of America was a major blow to the global effort to tackle climate change, considering the USA was one on the biggest polluters in the world.

Shifeta said Trump’s withdrawal had undermined the significance of the Paris agreement and the efforts that had been made, particularly by developing countries such as Namibia to reduce and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

President Hage Geingob signed the Paris Agreement on behalf of Namibia at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 22 April 2016.

The Paris Agreement commits developed countries to take the lead in scaling up financial support for tackling climate change in developing countries.

In this regard, Namibia being a signatory to the Paris Agreement has an opportunity to access such funding through institutions such as the recently operational Green Climate Fund.

The fund will assist the country in tackling climate change related challenges such as water, food and energy insecurity.

“It is disappointing that the withdrawal was made on the verge of the World Environmental Day (June 5) where countries are expected to rededicate and recommit themselves to protecting the environment and mitigate the impacts of climate change on the environment,” the minister said in his reaction.

He said the Paris Agreement united all the nations of the world into a first-ever universal, legally binding global deal to tackle climate change. In addition, Shifeta noted that climate change posed a threat to the environment and its impacts were devastating particularly for a country such as Namibia.

In Namibia people and the economy were heavily dependent on natural resource-based sectors, including agriculture and livestock farming, fisheries and tourism.

The Independent reported on Monday that Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change had apparently prompted the acting US Ambassador to China to resign from his post.

David Rank, who has served in the Foreign Service since 1990, worked in the Beijing embassy when China signed a bilateral deal with the US under the Obama administration, just ahead of the Paris signing.

It was considered a historic deal between two of the world’s largest polluters.
China estimated it would need until 2030 to reach a ‘peak’ of carbon emissions – mostly through inexpensive coal burning – in order to build up its economy to a point where it could afford to start transitioning to more renewable energy sources.

After that time, the country will begin to reduce carbon emissions and increase the proportion of renewable energy sources.

China is already a leader in solar panel production and renewable energy investments throughout the world.

Furthermore, The Independent reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping had urged Trump to keep the US in the Paris accord, but said that his country and France must ‘protect’ the deal.
The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

It further commits developed countries such as the United States of America to scale up financial support for climate change mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries.

Shifeta said that for both urban and rural populations to remain connected with nature, it was essential for the citizenry to stay engaged and conscious of the importance of environmental protection.

“For this reason I am pleased to note that all kinds of information and awareness raising events are taking place across the country for World Environment Day, with the full involvement and participation of a broad range of stakeholders.

“Let us all unite and take action so that our current and future generations will be able to connect to nature and can enjoy the treasures that it has to offer,” he urged.

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