Climate Change What Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement means for Ghana

  • Published:

Trump announced on Thursday that he was opting out of the Paris Climate Agreement “to put American workers first.”

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change has drawn anger and condemnation from leaders all over the world.

Trump announced on Thursday that he was opting out of the Paris Climate Agreement “to put American workers first.”

"We're getting out," Trump said at a ceremony in the White House Rose, fulfilling what many describes as his election campaign pledge.

According to Trump, the Paris Agreement “would undermine [the U.S.] economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risk, and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.”

 

"We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And they won't be," Trump said.

He, however, expressed a willingness to negotiate the agreement, saying the U.S. would “see if we can make a deal that’s fair … If we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.

Many world leaders, including Former Democratic President Barack Obama have expressed regret over Trump’s decision.

play Donald Trump and other world leaders

 

The European Union said it was unhappy that the U.S. would no longer be party to the Paris Agreement, adding that it would continue to fight climate change alongside other nations.

Germany, Italy, and France have since issued a strong statement expressing their mutual regret.

But what is the Paris Agreement?

Drafted in December 2015, the Paris climate agreement was to strengthen the global response to climate change by creating an international network of government bodies, all dedicated to lowering emissions.

All countries excluding Nicaragua and Syria signed the agreement.

Its main goal is to limit the average global temperature increase to below 2C (3.6F).

 

Countries across the world, such as China, the United Kingdom, Egypt, France and Germany, pledged to make rapid reductions to their infrastructure policies in the hopes of reducing their overall emissions to a long-term goal of zero-net emissions overall - carbon neutrality.

Under the pact, the United States - the world's second biggest carbon emitter behind China - had committed to reduce its emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

Per the agreement, the worst polluters in the world would be made to pay for the pollution. The cost is estimated at $150 per tonne of carbon emission. The aim is to improve the quality of air among other mitigating climate effects.

The US is currently the second highest emitter of carbon, but Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement means that he will focus on industrial expansion which will see the US emit more carbon.

And what does Trump’s decision mean for Ghana and Africa as a whole?

Africa is one of the continent’s hardest hit by climate change despite its low greenhouse gas emissions.

It usually experiences an increase in severe droughts, floods, and storms which threaten the health of populations and economies alike.

And so when the Paris Agreement was reached, many African countries including Ghana were elated as the deal will ensure that money is allocated towards the adaptation and climate mitigation needs of developing countries.

But what happens to Africa, particularly, Ghana, given the world's second biggest carbon emitter has decided to pull out of the deal.

Joshua Amponsem is an Environmentalist in Ghana and he speaks on some of the repercussions for the country.

play Joshua Amponsem

 

“What we need to appreciate is that he didn’t just back out of the agreement he also backed out of all the support the US was giving towards the agreement. This means that per the Paris Agreement, by 2020 all the developing countries were supposed to provide over 100 billion dollars in support to a fund we called the Green Climate Fund. The GCF was supposed to help vulnerable countries...Ghana as a country was going to benefit from the Green Climate Fund, which would have been used to execute projects which would alleviate the amount of pollution we enter. We are trying to divert to renewable energy and Ghana is struggling with that purposely because renewable energy is expensive...which means that if US is still part of the Paris Agreement and they were going to provide their support to the Fund to help countries like Ghana in instituting our green economy and expanding our green projects and green technology in the country, that would have helped the whole world and would have helped Ghana as a country to reduce our ecological footprints while increasing our green side of the country.

“Now that he has pulled out, not only is the Fund ceasing, but also it is also reducing how other countries are convinced to also push into the Paris Agreement.”

He said he is hoping that big influencers like China and Japan “will get into the issue and still motivate the other countries to still commit to the agreement.”

Mr Amponsem further indicated that the temperature keeps rising lately, thus “if there’s a country which is producing more to carbon and saying that they are not agreeing to the deal anymore, and they are going to pollute more, going to exploit coal more, which means that we have someone who is going to pollute more to increase global warming.”

play Climate change and its effects on farming in Africa

He further argued that an increase in global warming would lead to increased droughts, more frequent flooding, and shifts in rainfall which would affect the region’s food security and economic growth.

“If global warming increases, the countries that are being affected; I mean the US will be affected but Africa will be affected more, Ghana will be affected more because we depend so much on our natural resources; we depend so much on our water bodies; we depend so much on our forest. Now illegal small scale mining has already destroyed so many of our water bodies. Now if climate change comes in and we don’t have the rain when we are supposed to have them, farmers will be planting, the rains are not going to fall and these crops are going to die. You need money to build up to do the research to come out with drought-resistant crops; you need money to go into greenhouse farms; all these things are costly and you need money to do all these things.”

“...so if you don’t have the funding in place and someone also decides to contribute more to carbon in the atmosphere and global warming happen on a more faster rate which means that countries which are relying more on their natural resources are going to be the ones who will be massively affected,” he said.

24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!