‘Paris climate-change agreement - too little, too late to save Africa’

2015-12-16 06:00

THE agreement taken at COP21 in Paris may have damaging effects on Africa including severe flooding, droughts and a large increase in air temperature.

The Paris draft agreement states it aims to limit global warming below two degrees to 1,5 degrees.

However, Pietermaritzburg-based environmental group groundWork warns this may not work.

“This will bring terrible heatwaves, droughts and floods,” said groundWork member and Friends of the Earth director Bobby Peek.

groundWork released a statement on Friday that said the agreement made at COP21 would actually put “the world on track for three to four degrees warming”.

This would mean that Africa would heat by between five and eight degrees.

“It means our coastal cities will drown, and millions will die in this century, as our food and ecological systems collapse,” said the statement.

“We call on African governments to negotiate as if our lives mean something. If they cannot put a good deal on the table, we call on them to walk out of the Paris talks,” said Peek.

Uganda Friends of the Earth programme officer Geoffrey Kamese said after 23 years of negotiations people were now facing a four-degree increase.

“Fossil fuel linked developments are increasing, going against all the science based evidence. We fear already it is too late to save Africa, save its people and save the world,” he said.

Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo recognised the gaps in the agreement but said he was pleased at the direction it had taken.

“The human race has joined in a common cause, but it’s what happens after this conference that really matters,” he said in a press statement.

“The Paris Agreement is only one step on a long road, and there are parts of it that frustrate and disappoint me, but it is progress. The deal sets out the objective of limiting temperature rises to 1,5°degrees, but the emissions targets on the table take us closer to three degrees. That’s a critical problem, but it’s one with a solution. Renewable energy is already doing heavy-lifting across the globe, but now its moment must come.”

The statement said there was a major gap in the deal, but it could be bridged by clean technology.

“Now governments need to revise their short-term targets to be in line with their new goals, and revise their energy policies to speed up renewable energy uptake. They must stop funding fossil fuels and end deforestation by 2020.”

President Jacob Zuma said in a statement the success in Paris was the culmination of the watershed Durban Climate Change Conference in 2011 where Parties to the Convention agreed to the mandate for the Paris Agreement.

“We congratulate South Africans for this contribution to finding solutions to a global challenge. We also thank the United Nations for the opportunity provided to us to play this role,” he said.
— Witness Reporter.

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