If Trump Wins, Africa Will Spiral into Climate Hell

    EnvironmentClimate changeIf Trump Wins, Africa Will Spiral into Climate Hell
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    If Trump Wins, Africa Will Spiral into Climate Hell

    A Donald Trump win in the US presidential elections would spell disaster for climate action in Africa and worldwide. As president, Donald Trump slashed climate funding for Africa. President Joe Biden has also approved numerous oil and gas drilling permits.

    By Nathaniel Mong’are

    In 2018, Donald Trump did not disguise his racism when he disgracefully denigrated African nations in an expletive-filled rant.

    Fast forward to present day and the former US president seems more determined than ever to catalyse their demise, shamelessly courting the oil and gas firms responsible for propelling Africa, and the rest of the world, into climate catastrophe.

    At a campaign rally ahead of the Iowa caucuses last month, US media reported that Trump mocked a climate activist who called him a “climate criminal” by telling her to “go home to mommy”. As she was removed, the crowd erupted in cheers of “USA”.

    Amid little meaningful competition, and despite ongoing legal battles, Trump is almost guaranteed to run against Joe Biden in November’s presidential election.

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    However, the flocks of supporters who attend his rallies in the thousands remain oblivious to the Trump policies that will inevitably set ablaze their futures and lead to 1.2 billion climate refugees by 2050, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace thinktank.

    In Iowa, newspapers reported that Trump said he would terminate Biden’s “Green New Scam” and “drill, baby, drill”. Trump, once again drawing on this irresponsible Republican campaign slogan from 2008, is absolutely committed to take us all back to the stone age by tearing down every possible obstacle between big fossil fuel companies and their profits.

    During his last tenancy, Trump slashed more than 100 rules, domestic safeguards and regulations while also withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and appointing climate deniers in senior positions.

    Biden’s broken promises

    However, months into his presidency he also controversially eviscerated practically all climate funding for dedicated USAID programmes in Africa – programmes initiated under Obama that were crucial to promoting climate resilience by arming African governments with tech, funds and support to fight climate change.

    The programme’s departure – although it has shown signs of a recent revival – marked years lost and contributed directly to the deepening humanitarian and environmental crisis that today impacts more than 110 million Africans in 2022, according to a report by the World Meteorological Organization .

    Yet, the continent’s 1.4 billion people stand in the face of climate calamity, despite contributing less than 3 per cent towards global emissions. Meanwhile, the US continues to maintain the fossil fuel status quo.

    Even in a post-Trump era, President Biden has struggled to follow through on his campaign commitments.

    Behind the scenes, President Biden’s broken promises around climate action have been reduced to mere talking points, punctuated by a record-breaking explosion in approvals for more oil and gas drilling permits (even more than Trump), according to a report by the group Climate Transparency, that coincided with a new, mammoth ad campaign promoting expanded use of fossil fuels launched by the American Petroleum Institute.

    This dissonance between words and deeds is playing out in the lives of ordinary Americans too, with 71 per cent of Americans recognising the destructive impact of climate change on lives and expressing a desire for substantial reduction in emission levels, according to a poll by the US-based Pew Research Center.

    Yet, the American government remains on auto-pilot.

    Profound moral and ethical lapse

    This stark reality became glaringly apparent at last year’s UN climate summit, COP28, in the UAE, where significant strides were taken towards climate action, including an historic agreement to transition away from fossil fuels and financially commit to tripling renewable capacity by 2030. But despite its significance, America only played a minor role.

    For example, COP president Sultan al-Jaber managed to operationalise a long overdue Loss and Damage Fund which will provide rapid, disaster-relief support to the global South. However, US contributions of only US$17.5 million, against those made by Norway ($25m), Denmark ($50m) and the UAE ($100m), were almost as embarrassing as their last minute efforts to derail the talks. To make matters even worse, President Biden didn’t even show up.

    But the inadequacy of financial contributions goes beyond mere monetary disparity; it epitomises a profound moral and ethical lapse in acknowledging and rectifying the disproportionate burden placed on developing nations due to America’s disastrous climate policies and addiction to fossil fuels.

    And let’s be clear: both President Biden and Trump have demonstrated their own failures regarding the climate.

    But we know where Trump stands, and it’s not with us. And to see his 2024 dreams realised would spell the end for any kind of sustainable climate policy for years to come, destroying millions of lives in Africa, the global South, and eventually – America.

    See, whatever fate we face in Africa will one day arrive on the shores of America. Already, escalating climate disasters are increasingly manifesting across the US, costing America US$150 billion a year and rising. For example, last summer, cities like Chicago had among the worst air quality in the world, according to the tracking service IQAir, because of wildfires in neighbouring Canada. If trends continue, next summer is set to be even worse.

    It’s about the future

    But the situation could still change – for Biden and America. For one, Biden could revoke the fossil fuel permits his administration has approved and use his executive powers to declare a climate emergency.

    Following on Africa’s Climate Week, which I helped organise in Nairobi, USAID announced it was investing US$35 million in Africa’s climate leadership – however, the Biden administration cannot stop there.

    Now, more than ever, Biden must lead from the front and reinstate and recalibrate US-led climate programmes in Africa and elsewhere in the global South – capitalising on the incredible potential for renewables, especially solar power – something which other countries in the global North have begun exploring.

    So, cut the red tape and open doors — not for fossil fuel industries, but for climate action groups, scientists, and aid workers. Americans must demand that President Biden delivers real and tangible actions that match his rhetoric, or let Trump’s radical base not only hold the Republican Party and America hostage, but the whole world.

    After all, this isn’t just about the future of America, it’s about the future of us all.

    Nathaniel Mong’are is a senior advisor to the Prime Cabinet Secretary of Kenya who assists the president and the deputy president in the coordination and supervision of government ministries and state departments. He was involved in the organisation of Africa Climate Week, in Kenya, and has been deeply involved in Kenya’s climate leadership in Africa under the direction of President William Ruto. This piece has been sourced from SciDev.Net

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