US NGOs tell Obama to ‘stop playing politics’ and fix a deal in Durban

By RTCC Staff

President Obama

The Obama Administration urged to stop playing politics (Source: The White House/Pete Souza)

US policymakers must stop playing politics and focus their attention on people already suffering the impacts of climate change, a coalition of US NGOs have urged ahead of the COP17 Climate Summit in Durban.

The ‘Stand with Africa: act now for climate justice’ campaign – a coalition of 14 US NGO and charity partners – says America must stop delaying action and accept its responsibility to act as the single largest historic emitter of greenhouse gases.

They say that with the climate conference being held in Durban, South Africa, it offers an opportunity for the US to stand by the continent which is already feeling some of the worst effects of climate change.

The World Food Programme estimates that approximately 65% of the increase in climate related hunger from climate change is projected to take place on the continent, while 75 to 250 million people living in Africa could face more severe water shortages by 2020, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Meanwhile, much of the continent still survives on small incomes and with limited access to basic resources – around 500,000 people currently live without electricity. Studies show that the poorer a country, the less capability it will have to adapt.

Ilana Solomon, Senior Policy Analyst at ActionAid USA said: “The Durban climate summit is taking place against a backdrop of climate-driven disasters. Recent floods across Asia have killed hundreds, displaced millions, and have led to sever flood shortages across the region. Droughts across East Africa have threatened the lives and livelihoods of more than 13 million people.

“The US and other developed countries must go to the climate summit and uphold the interests of the poor – not of corporations and polluting industries.”

The ‘Stand with Africa’ campaign calls on the US to offer a clean plan of how it will meet and exceed its current emissions reduction target; commit to at least one new innovative approach to generate public finance and help countries confront climate change; and support the operation of a transparent, accountable and environmentally sound Green Climate Fund.

They believe a range of tools are available to reduce emissions and generate finance, such as mechanisms for polluting industries like aviation and shipping or a small fee placed on financial transactions.

The group also say by facing the climate change challenge, the US would protect themselves from the climate risks and impacts at home.

Lou Leonard, Managing Director of Climate Change at WWF said: “Washington is absent at home and abroad on addressing risks posed by climate change, leaving cities and towns across America dangerously unprepared for those severe and growing impacts.

“The Obama administration needs to rise above the Washington gridlock and show leadership by developing and executing a US strategy to meet international climate commitments.”

The coalition includes 14 NGOs and charities including ActionAid USA, Africa Faith and Justice Network, Friends of the Earth USA, Greenpeace USA and WFF.

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