By Atayi Babs
African civil society groups at the ongoing Bonn climate talks have called on parties (countries) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to kick out the delegation from United States and their allies from the climate negotiations.
The non-state actors under the umbrella of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) made this known at a press conference on the second day of negotiations at the conference.
The civil society groups from Africa constitute one of the largest block of observers at the UN conference
The activists questioned the rationale and the morality behind the continuous participation of the US delegation in negotiating the ‘operating system’ of a climate accord in which the country defiantly walked away from.
They urged the COP leadership under the presidency of Fiji to lead the US delegation to the door and show them the way out.
“The actions of President Donald Trump do not reflect good faith and the spirit of cooperation in international climate change dialogue processes,” Mithika Mwenda, PACJA’s Secretary General said.
“We thus call for the US delegation to vacate its seat at the negotiations as their continued presence may catalyse climate inaction amongst nations,” Mwenda added.
In December 2015, 196 countries including the United States agreed to keep global temperatures well below the 2c level above pre-industrial times and endeavour to limit them even more to 1.5c.
Contained in what later became known as the Paris Agreement, countries further agreed to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity, and enable rich countries to help the poorer nations by providing climate finance to adapt to climate chance and switch to renewable energy.
In June 2017, Trump announced that the United States would begin a three-year process of withdrawal. He said then that he could revisit the decision if the United States could renegotiate terms he sees as unfair.
According to the rules governing the Agreement, the US cannot exit until 2020.
Being the first major meeting after the decision to pull out, delegates at the COP 23 are expectedly divided over what to do with the 48-man US delegation.
While Nazhat Shameem Khan, Fiji’s chief negotiator likened US delegation’s participation to the possibility of “dialoguing [even] with somebody who is an axe murderer,” others are scared of White House plans to promote fossil fuels and nuclear power as solutions to climate change at the conference.
White house officials have been billed to participate in an event that will highlight the role of coal and other fuels in curbing the impacts of rising temperatures.
PACJA’s Nisreen Elsaim who spoke on behalf of African youths believes that the US delegation actually came to play the obstructionist role in the negotiations.
Rev. Tolbert Jallah of the Faith and Justice Network warned that the US action may gradually evolve into a coalition of obstructionists “who will ultimately undermine global partnership against climate change.”