June 5, 2017 (GIN) – African countries contribute little to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, but they still bear the brunt of global warming. Seven out of the world’s 10 countries considered the most threatened by climate change are in Africa.
Climate change in Africa is manifest in rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, and changes in rainfall patterns leading to floods or severe droughts. Since 1970, Africa has experienced more than 2,000 natural disasters, with just under half taking place in the last decade.
So it was a great disappointment when President Donald Trump, after much back and forth, chose to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate agreement that was years in the making and signed by over 200 countries.
Leaders of African green movements and other developing regions say the U.S. move is “a betrayal” for poor people and another step closer to the climate cliff.
“For us in Africa, we’re already seeing the first big impacts of climate change,” commented South African environmental activist Kumi Naidoo. “Poor people have hardly contributed any emissions. For them to be facing the first and most brutal price of climate impacts, it’s just unjust.
“For us in Africa, people need to understand that it is not like climate impacts are going to hit us somewhere in the future. There are parts of the African continent that are becoming depopulated now as a result of climate-intensified desertification and climate-intensified drought. So we are seeing the reality now of climate refugees.
The biggest threat to peace, security and stability will come from the impacts of climate change,” he said, “which we are seeing already on the African continent in places like Darfur, in Sudan.”
Still, Naidoo, former head of Greenpeace and now chair of “Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity” has found an upside to the U.S. withdrawal.
“In fact, the President has energized the climate movement rather than de-energized it. There are activists who are talking about a strategic boycott of the United States, targeting certain products of the United States. It’s something that we’ve never heard talked about very seriously in the past.”
“Mayors in the United States, progressive governors, progressive businesses are saying to Trump: “We’re moving ahead anyway.”