Chair: Fatima Denton, Director, Special Initiatives Division, ECA
Presenter: James Murombedzi, Officer in Charge, African Climate Policy Center, ECA
Discussant: Johnson Nkem, Senior Climate Adaptation Expert, African Climate Policy Center, ECA
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has been celebrated as a triumph of multilateralism, and the last hope for humanity to avert irreversible global warming this century. The agreement came into force in record time, and negotiations to finalize the implementation arrangements and modalities have been continuing apace since 2015. The principal aim of the Paris Agreement is to reduce GHG emissions. This will be achieved through voluntary actions in different countries, based on low-emission and climate resilient development pathways. These will entail shifting energy systems in all sectors of economic activity away from fossil fuels to greener and more efficient energy sources. However, even before the ink on the agreement has dried, the USA, representing the largest historical emissions of greenhouse gasses, has triggered more to withdraw from the agreement. This eventuality / potential outcome is informed, at least in part, by powerful fossil fuel interests, as was clear at the Republican Party supporters’ “Pittsburgh Not Paris” rally backing the withdrawal decision. The intended withdrawal calls for a re-examination of the Paris Agreement and its ability, in its current form, to deliver on the objectives of controlling global warming. This discussion will explore the political economy questions arising out of the stated US withdrawal, with focus on the structural fragility of the Paris agreement, and the implications of a tenuous global climate governance framework for sustainable development in Africa.
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Fatima: "It is critical that we prepare to enter a new world that is warming. Humanity must in addition quickly learn how to make a radical transformation that allows growth without increasing emissions".
James: "The Paris Agreement should identify mechanisms to compel countries to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, by reducing fossil fuels subsidies and incentives".