African campaigners called for US negotiators to be barred from climate talks under way in Bonn, Germany, at a press conference on Tuesday.
Members of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) said they were planning to circulate a petition to show support for kicking the US delegation out.
In light of president Donald Trump’s avowed intention to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, the activists argued the country had no right to be involved in negotiations on how to implement the deal.
“Trump’s agenda is to dismantle the Paris Agreement,” Mithika Mwenda, secretary general of PACJA, told reporters. He wanted to send the message: “You’re either with the people or with Trump.”
The two-week UN climate summit is the first since Trump announced in June his plan to quit the Paris deal.
Under the Paris agreement, 195 countries agreed to limit global warming to 2C and mobilise funds from developed to developing countries for tackling climate change.
Trump has reversed the climate policies of his predecessor Barack Obama and cancelled climate finance programmes, including an outstanding $2 billion pledged to the Green Climate Fund.
The US cannot officially pull out of the Paris deal until 2020 and Trump has left the door open for “re-engaging” on terms he considers more favourable to the US. In the meantime, the US may continue to take part in discussions. It has 48 delegates at the Bonn meeting.
Experts have told Climate Home News they expect the US delegation to play a constructive role, despite Trump’s stance.
Mwenda accused negotiators of treating their US counterparts with “kid gloves”. He urged them “not to give Trump the platform to rock the boat from within”.
Tolbert Hallah from the Faith Justice Alliance said it was “outrageous” that the Trump’s administration wants to be part of the negotiations despite quitting the Paris deal. “Trump is going to create a lot of climate change deniers,” said Hallah.
The activists said it was unacceptable that poor people are made to pay for the consequences of the rich, adding that African countries are greatly impacted by climate change through droughts, floods and storms that have claimed a lot of lives.
Climate Home News’ reporting at Cop23 is supported in part by the European Climate Foundation.