SA govt asks Trump to reconsider withdrawal from Paris Agreement

2017-06-08 16:57
US President Donald Trump. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

US President Donald Trump. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

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Cape Town - The South African government has asked the United States to reconsider its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Cabinet expressed its regret at the US decision to withdraw from the agreement, which President Donald Trump announced last week.

"The Paris Agreement, which will be fully operational by 2020, is premised on contributions determined by countries themselves towards collectively agreed global goals," reads Cabinet's statement.

"South Africa has called on the USA to reconsider its position and recommit to the multilateral process."

South Africa, hereby, joins countries as diverse as North Korea and US neighbour, Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that Canada was "deeply disappointed" that the United States federal government had decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

"Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth. Canadians know we need to take decisive and collective action to tackle the many harsh realities of our changing climate.

"We will also continue to reach out to the US federal government to discuss this matter of critical importance for all humankind, and to identify areas of shared interest for collaboration, including on emissions reductions," he said.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that North Korea's foreign ministry had released a statement warning that "global warming is one of the gravest challenges humankind is facing today", and praised the Paris accord for its attempt to stop it.

"This is the height of egotism and moral vacuum, seeking only their own well-being at the cost of the entire planet," the statement said.

'Onus on SA now stronger than ever'

According to the World Wildlife Fund South Africa, the Paris Agreement, which was approved in December 2015, commits nearly 200 countries to pursue all efforts to limit the global temperature increasing by only 1.5°C, to stave off some of the worst impacts of a warming planet.

"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 underway," reads a statement from WWF South Africa, released last week after Trump's announcement.

Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa, commented: "The onus is now stronger than ever for South Africa to take control of its own destiny and to plan and implement a just transition to a low carbon economy. We know that per unit of power new solar and wind power stations now offer electricity at cheaper rates than new coal power stations - no decision made in another capital should undermine our commitment to our nation’s future wellbeing."

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF’s Global Climate & Energy Practice Leader, said: "Fortunately, the Paris Agreement is bigger than any one nation or any one government. We can still achieve the promise of Paris, but we have no time to lose.

"Countries around the world must seize the opportunity to unleash this potential, invest in renewable energy that eliminates harmful carbon pollution, and build economies that are more resilient, inclusive and prosperous."

Read more on:    donald trump  |  cape town  |  canada  |  france  |  us  |  north korea  |  cop21  |  climate change

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