Forests are central to the Climate Change Agreement signed in December 2015 by more than 190 countries and so far ratified by about 140 countries. Article 5 of the Paris Agreement calls on countries to conserve and maintain forests as sinks. It recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples including those living in the Congo Basin. The Agreement contains language on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation  (REDD+). It acknowledges a system where forested countries would be compensated in return for results towards forest conservation. It sets 2050 as the period when the world would see net zero emissions from the forest.

With President Donald Trump announcing that the US IS pulling out of the agreement, what does this mean for the Congo Basin Parties of the Accord and the forest it harbors?

The Congo Basin forests represent the world’s second largest contiguous rain forest after the Amazon. Approximately 25-30 million tons of carbon stocks are stored in the Congo Basin forests.

The Congo Basin forests represent the world’s second largest contiguous rain forest after the Amazon. Approximately 25-30 million tons of carbon stocks are stored in the Congo Basin forests.


On the financial side, this announcement will likely affect the projected funding support to countries harboring tropical forest. To what extent? This may not be known anytime soon. But what is certain is that the US provides substantial financial support to developing countries to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. The US is also central to the technological support needed by developing countries to deal with climate change.

“We foresee the end of deforestation between 2020 and 2030. But someone has to pay the DRC’s efforts to re-establish its forests,” said the DRC Minister of the Environment at the UN Climate Talks in Paris in 2015. This mirrors the expectations of countries in the region when it comes to international financial support to conserve the forest. This therefore suggest that without US support, we could see conservation efforts and policies in the region struggle in the months and years ahead.


Reacting to the announcement, Mithika Mwenda of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) said “with the plan by Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, people power and international solidarity are the only hope we have of averting an unimaginable climate crisis which will fan the flames of every existing inequality and injustice. It will take all of us around the world, organizing together, to hold the historic emitters like the U.S. under the watch of Donald Trump to account and ensure our governments also do their fair share of climate action in the next four years to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. Trump’s decision doesn’t change that.”

“The U.S. pull-out from the Paris Agreement should be strongly condemned and denounced by all peoples of the world. Not because the Paris Agreement is perfect, certainly not because the Paris Agreement will save the world from climate catastrophe. But because a U.S. pull-out reveals utter disregard for the fate of humanity in favor of continued hegemony of U.S. elites and big corporate interests. Not to mention a tyrannical refusal to accept scientific findings.” Lidy Nacpil, Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development

“Climate change is not waiting for U.S. action and neither can the rest of the world. Trump has turned the U.S. into a rogue climate state and the world should use economic and diplomatic pressure to compel the U.S. to do its fair share. The majority of Americans do not support Trump and his fossil fuel agenda that puts corporate profits above people. The struggle to create real, deep change continues in the U.S. The resistance to Trump is strong and it is growing.” Ben Schreiber, Friends of the Earth USA

“Our justified outrage at Trump should not blind us to the destructive policies that he pursued before he got out of Paris, and that are still being pursued by many countries that remain parties to the Paris Agreement. Germany, for example, long feted as a champion of international climate politics, is not world leader in renewable energies, but in fact world leader in digging up and burning lignite, the dirtiest of all the fossil fuels. The struggle for climate justice remains one that must be fought at all levels: from the global, all the way to the local. Trump pulling out of Paris only reinforces the key message: if we want to protect the climate, we can’t wait for our governments to do so. We’ve got to do it ourselves.” Tadzio Mueller, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung

“Thanks to historic U.S. pollution, we are already suffering the consequences of a rapidly warming world with droughts, fires, and floods wreaking havoc with livelihoods and lives, even displacing whole communities. Trump wants to add to that historic pollution and condemn present and future generations in the global south to further suffering and death. We cannot allow this, there must be forceful political, legal, and economic consequences levied against the U.S. Trump must realise that in the case of climate, nature has the trump card and not him and his cronies!” Sreedhar Ramamurthi, Environics India

“I am ashamed of my country’s persistent role in undermining efforts to create a strong and binding agreement, now culminating in Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Here in the U.S. climate justice activists are scrambling hard to find a path forward from within. We hope our allies will let their voices be heard at U.S. embassies – to both isolate Donald Trump and his ilk – and apply pressure on the U.S. to step up and take responsibility for real and equitable solutions to the escalating climate catastrophe.” Rachel Smolker, BiofuelWatch USA

“As climate justice movements we stand in solidarity with frontline communities and environmental defenders in the U.S. who have been struggling to ensure the U.S. government takes action on climate change since long before the Paris Agreement. In that spirit of solidarity we call on people everywhere to show up wherever Mr. Trump goes to tell him that his hatred and fear are not welcome in our countries, while we continue to force our own governments to keep fossil fuels in the ground and ensure a just transition for workers.” Antonio Zambrano Allende, Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climático (MOCICC)

“The Climate Justice Alliance has historically struggled to assure that Indigenous people, women, human rights and a Just Transition are at the forefront of international climate agreements. The shortcomings of the Paris Accord – and Trump’s erroneous and embarrassing decision to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement – proves more than ever that communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis are the ones to lead us toward a renewable and regenerative future. We will continue to organize for climate justice and stand in solidarity with our international allies who are fighting for survival, resisting extraction, and creating solutions from the ground up.” Angela Adrar, Climate Justice Alliance USA

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