ENVIRONMENTALISTS in Tanzania have minced no words in their criticism of US president Donald Trump decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, describing it as a big blow for Africa.
They said the US pull-out from Paris deal will badly derail long-time efforts to reduce carbon dioxide across the globe, with the US remaining the world’s second-worst emitter of carbon dioxide after China.
According to Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) communication officer Bettie Luwuge, the US pullout is a "wake-up" call to many developing countries including Tanzania.
“While the US contributes to 15% of all global emissions, with its high financial levels and best technologies, this move is simply discouraging for a whole lot of serious nations that were willing to take a collective part in reducing the world’s carbon footprints,” Luwuge said. She noted that for the past decade or so, African and other developing countries have been working hard to get the world’s main polluting countries to agree on reducing emissions.
“A number of initiatives were launched to contribute to meaningful change in the lives of millions of communities affected severely by the effects of climate change. Should the support for these initiatives stop? No,” Luwuge asserted.
“African people are most affected by such decisions as that made by the Trump administration, but it is still in our own government's capacity to show the political willingness and commitment to push for climate change ourselves,” she added.
A senior political lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Benson Bana, said the consequences of the US withdrawal from the Paris deal are critical because the US was the major financier of climate change mitigation initiatives.
“Africa will suffer significantly. Africa cannot single-handedly fund climate change mitigation initiatives,” stated Bana.
He noted that both China and India, the other two main global carbon dioxide emitters, are not contributing at all towards climate change mitigation.
Kondoa district forest officer Emmanuel Kasisi called on countries around the world to team up and try to persuade Trump to reverse his decision for the interests of the international community.
Kasisi said since the US is one of the world’s recognised superpower nations, the decision to withdraw from the climate change deal could fuel environmental destruction across the world.
Lawyers Environment Action Team (LEAT) executive director Dr Rugemeleza Nshala described the decision as a ‘personal Trump political proclamation’ that is opposed by many in the US itself.
He cited the US states of California, Massachusetts and New York as among those that have strongly opposed Trump on the matter.
Prominent local environmental journalist Deodatus Mfugale noted that since the US is the second worst polluter in the world after China, withdrawing from the Paris accord means that the pledge to cut its emissions by 26 to 28 per cent will also not be met.
“This leaves developing countries like Tanzania with the opportunity to step up its emission cuts, however small, using its own resources,” said Mfugale.
He said the principle of ‘the polluter pays’ must now be viewed differently as major polluters are refusing to shoulder the problems they have created.
“Tanzania must step up enforcement of laws and regulations regarding climate change,” said Mfugale, adding that the country should also make national budget allocations for climate change adaptation and mitigation in a bid to rely less on developed countries.
The Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office responsible for environment, January Makamba, described Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord as ill-advised and unlikely to save the world or the US itself.
“The core industries that President Trump is trying to protect are on the decline anyway, and green economy is now much larger and is employing more people,” said Makamba.
He said Tanzania will continue to work with other countries across the world that have signed the Paris accord towards implementation of the deal.
Trump’s announcement last Thursday that he was withdrawing the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement has dismayed America’s allies in general and set back efforts to address global warmth.
He said the agreement could cost the US as many as 2.7 million jobs by 2025, was not beneficial to the US but was for the “exclusive benefit of other countries.”
Environmental campaigners say the US withdrawal will make it considerably harder for the remaining 190 or so countries to reach their agreed goals, given that the US is responsible for about 15 percent of global emissions of carbon and promised $3 billion to help other nations.