Climate change is real, Biruta says after US shocker

RWANDA remains committed to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change despite the US’s withdrawal from the deal, the Minister for Natural Resources, Dr Vincent Biruta, has said.
Floods are some of the telling impacts of climate change. File.
Floods are some of the telling impacts of climate change. File.

RWANDA remains committed to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change despite the US’s withdrawal from the deal, the Minister for Natural Resources, Dr Vincent Biruta, has said.

The announcement that the US was withdrawing from the global deal was made by President Donald Trump Thursday.


Trump said America would withdraw from the Paris agreement on Climate Change, on grounds that the pact was a threat to the economy and American sovereignty.


The move has been criticised by several world leaders and experts with a view that it would weaken efforts to combat global warming.


Biruta told Saturday Times that he would not specifically comment on any sovereign country’s decision to withdraw from the agreement which 195 countries signed in 2015.

However, he noted that climate change is “real” and there is surely a need to take up measures to address it; of which he thinks the Paris deal was one major tool to address climate change.

“We are signatories to Paris Climate Change Agreement and will continue to implement it with the willing parties and organisations,” Biruta said.

The Paris Agreement is a deal within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and financing.

Its implementation is supposed to start in 2020.

The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on December 12, 2015.

So far, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, 148 of which have ratified it.

Rwanda ratified the agreement in November 2016.

Reason for concern?

Local experts on climate change have expressed mixed reactions regarding the impact of US withdrawal from the accord but have urged Rwanda to stick to the deal and partner with the willing parties to combat climate change.

Innocent Kabenga, the country director of Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), said as much as there is no direct impact on Rwanda—from Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement—he foresees an indirect impact both on climate mitigation and adaptation globally.

“I think it is a concern because Unites States is the second biggest polluting country in the world and top contributing country to the Green Climate Fund,” Kabenga told Saturday Times.

“So, withdrawing means that the US will continue to pour greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and that also means that the timeline that the world has adopted to reduce climate change effects will not be met.

On the other hand, programmes that have been set up for both mitigation and adaption will suffer because there is a bunch of money that will not be provided by the US.”

EU-China commitment
A joint statement by the European Union and the China, released yesterday, indicated that the two parties are willing to fill the financial void left by the US in mobilising funds for climate change mitigation programme.

EU-China coalition, in this case, announced that they, “recognise the global dimension of the technological and scientific collaboration, underlining the benefit of multilateral cooperation. They reaffirm their commitment to Mission Innovation and its aim to accelerate the clean energy transition.”

In so doing, the EU stated that they “fully” stands behind the collective mobilisation goal of developed countries to jointly provide $100 billion annually by 2020, and urges other developed state parties to stand behind this collective goal.

The statement added that, prior to 2025 the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement shall set a new collective quantified goal from a floor of $100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.

Faustin Munyazikwiye, the director of climate change and international obligations unit at Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), said the commitment from EU and China is a relief to developing countries such as Rwanda.

“It is good that China and European Union are willing to fill the financial void that has been left by the US, but, unfortunately, that is not enough because they won’t control the greenhouse gases from the US,” Munyazikwiye said.

Commenting on the impact of climate change in Rwanda, he said unpredictable seasons, prolonged dry season and consistent increase in temperature is proof that climate change is also happening in Rwanda.

“In Rwanda, for instance, measurements from the Kigali International Airport weather station show that from 1970 to 2010 there has been an increase of about 1 percent degrees in temperature,” Munyazikwiye said.

Away from the measurements, you will see floods every other season, there is shift of seasons and all these really prove that climate change is real, he said.

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