Climate change: Nations will push ahead with plans despite Trump

Matt McGrath BBC 10 Nov 16;

At UN climate talks in Morocco, countries say they are prepared to move ahead without the US.

President-elect Trump has said that he will "cancel" the Paris Climate Agreement within 100 days of taking office.

Negotiators in Marrakech say that such a move would seriously damage the credibility of the US.

But fossil fuel supporters say Mr Trump's plans prioritise the needs of American families.

Cancelling the deal

The election of a candidate viewed with horror by many environmental campaigners, has cast a significant shadow over COP22 - the annual meeting of climate delegates from almost 200 countries.

They have come to Marrakech to work on the nuts and bolts of the Paris Climate Agreement.

However the election of Mr Trump now poses something of a threat to the deal signed less than a year ago in the French capital.

The treaty commits governments to take action to keep global temperatures from rising by 2C above pre-industrial levels and to do their best to keep that rise to less than 1.5 degrees.

But Mr Trump has promised that within 100 days of taking office he would "cancel" the agreement and "stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programmes".

Aware of Mr Trump's intentions, countries speedily ratified the Paris deal and it became a binding part of international law on 4 November.

If the new president wants to take the US out of the agreement, the process will require four years before he is free of it.

But while that might frustrate Mr Trump, he has also promised within his first 100 days, to rescind the executive actions that President Obama has taken to limit US emissions of carbon.

The key element of the Obama scheme was the Clean Power Plan, that aimed to severely restrict CO2 from energy production.

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly denounced the costs of the plan and said he would reverse it.

"It also means scrapping the EPA's so-called Clean Power Plan, which the government itself estimates will cost $7.2bn a year. This Obama-Clinton directive will shut down most, if not all, coal-power electricity plants," he told an audience in New York in September.

The President-elect's plans to renege on the Paris Agreement and push forward with coal have been condemned by green groups globally.

"Trump's election is a disaster, but it cannot be the end of the international climate process," said May Boeve from 350.org.

"We're not giving up the fight and neither should the international community. Trump will try and slam the brakes on climate action, which means we need to throw all of our weight on the accelerator."

In Marrakech, where up to 20,000 participants from all over the world are trying to advance the Paris Climate Agreement, there was a strong sense that the President-elect's promises wouldn't sabotage the deal.

"I'm sure that the rest of the world will continue to work on it," Moroccan chief negotiator Aziz Mekouar told wire agencies.

Others felt that the practicalities of office my change Mr Trump's tone.

"Now that the election campaign has passed and the realities of leadership settle in, I expect he will realise that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the US, including my own,'' said Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine at the meeting.

However, Mr Trump's promise to rapidly get out of the Paris agreement and to push forward with a coal friendly policy have been welcomed by groups representing the fossil fuel industry.

According to the American Energy Alliance (AEA), which has attracted funding from companies and individuals opposed to green energy, the election presented the opportunity to reset the "harmful" policies of the last generation.

"We were among the first organisations to endorse President-elect Trump," the AEA said in a statement.

"We're excited to work with his administration to put forth energy policies that will deliver affordable energy to American families, invigorate the economy, and create more opportunities for future generations."

For delegates in Marrakech, Mr Trump's promises to pull out of Paris and his general climate scepticism are an unwelcome distraction but not as yet a derailment.

Many believe that over time, the realities of a changing climate would bring even the wealthy businessman into line.

"It's clear Donald Trump is about to be one of the most powerful people in the world," said Alden Meyer, from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"But even he does not have the power to amend and change the laws of physics, to stop the impacts of climate change, to stop the rising sea levels."


Paris climate deal thrown into uncertainty by US election result
Many fear Donald Trump will reverse the ambitious course set by Barack Obama, withdraw the US from the accord and increase fossil-fuel spending
John Vidal and Oliver Milman The Guardian 9 Nov 16;

Just days after the historic Paris agreement officially came into force, climate denier Donald Trump’s victory has thrown the global deal into uncertainty and raised fears that the US will reverse the ambitious environmental course charted under Barack Obama.

International environmental groups meeting at the UN climate talks in Morocco said it would be a catastrophe if Trump acted on his pledge to withdraw the US from the deal, which took 20 years to negotiate, and to open up public land for coal, oil and gas extraction.

Trump has called climate change a “hoax”, placing him virtually alone among world leaders on the validity of the science. The real estate magnate has promised to embark upon a four-year process of withdrawing the US from the Paris deal and has targeted the “billions and billion and billions” given to UN climate programmes and clean energy development.

Domestically, Trump has promised to reboot America’s ailing coal industry, as well as expand gas and oil drilling, despite the fact that the growth of natural gas use has caused the downturn in coal.

He also plans to scrap Obama’s signature Clean Power plan, which is the main policy designed to lower US emissions.

Recent analysis by Lux Research estimated that a Trump presidency would raise US greenhouse gas output by 16% by the end of his second term, should he get one, compared to a Hillary Clinton administration. Such a shift could prove key in not only pushing the world towards dangerous climate change but also dissuading other nations from making the required cuts in emissions.

Green groups have urged the president-elect, as the leader of the second greatest greenhouse gas emitter, to act in the interests of all the world.

“The new president must protect the people he serves from climate chaos. No personal belief or political affiliation can change the stark truth that every new oil well and pipeline pushes us all closer to catastrophe. The administration has moral and legal obligations to meet international commitments,” said May Boeve, head of climate campaign group 350.org.

Christian Aid warned that any attempts by Trump to ditch the Paris deal would be an act of “economic self-sabotage”.

“The global transition to a zero-carbon economy will not be held up by one man. The rest of the world will not risk a global climate catastrophe because of one man’s opposition,” said Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s international climate lead spokesman.

In the US, shellshocked environmentalists pledged to step up their opposition to Trump. “Greenpeace and millions of people around the world have all the power we need to combat climate change and create a just world for everyone,” said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace US. “Let’s use this moment to reenergize the fight for the climate and the fight for human rights around the world.”

Ségolène Royale, the French environment minister who helped negotiate the Paris accord, told journalists in Marrakech that the US could not withdraw from the treaty easily. “The Paris agreement prohibits any exit for a period of three years, plus a year-long notice period, so there will be four stable years,” she said.

“We must be extremely attentive and responsive to each time there is an attempt made to weaken this agreement,” she said on French radio.

“There is no possible turning back in the negotiation on what was agreed in Paris ... we can only advance,” said Salaheddine Mezouar, foreign minister of Morocco, which is hosting the latest round of climate talks.

Major countries meeting in Marrakech were slow to respond to Trump’s win but small island states threatened with annihilation if temperatures are not held to 2C urged him to take responsibility for the whole world.

“I expect [Trump] will realise that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the US including my own ... I look forward to watching Mr Trump live up to his responsibility to protect his people, and others around the world,” said Hilda Heine, president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“One of the many challenges Trump’s administration will now confront is climate change. Last month, for the first time, renewables like wind and solar surpassed fossil fuels in [new] electricity generation globally and that number is expected to climb. America has led this technological transformation and can continue to create jobs and opportunity in this area,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, energy minister for the Maldives and chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis).

Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists was reported to have told a press conference at Marrakech that: “If the US pulls out of this, and is seen as going as a rogue nation on climate change, that will have implications for everything else on President Trump’s agenda when he wants to deal with foreign leaders. And I think he will soon come to understand that.”

“The election of President Trump is clearly a major threat to our climate and future wellbeing of generations to come. But thankfully the clean energy revolution is now unstoppable. If Mr Trump chooses to disengage then he will hand the next industrial revolution lock, stock and barrel to the Chinese,” said Friends of the Earth’s chief executive officer, Craig Bennett.

US human rights and environment groups urged other countries to hold Trump to account. “The Paris agreement was signed and ratified not by a president, but by the United States itself. As a matter of international law, and as a matter of human survival, the nations of the world can, must, and will hold the United States to its climate commitments,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Nathaniel Keohane, vice-president at the Environmental Defense Fund, said: “The world won’t wait for the US and neither will the climate. This year the impacts of climate change cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars and put 40 million people in southern Africa alone at risk of hunger.

“The next president needs to work with Congress to go further faster to cut emissions and protect the rights of men and women on the front lines of the climate crisis.”

Businesses also expressed concerns that a Trump presidency would set back climate change action. “We expect Trump’s policies to put at risk the decarbonisation and clean energy uptake seen during President Obama’s time in office, with potential to slow both the US energy system transition and domestic measures to mitigate climate change,” said analysts at HSBC’s Global Research unit.

China earlier this month took the unusual step of criticising Trump’s plans to pull out of Paris.

But Zou Ji, deputy director general at China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, said: “China’s climate strategy and policy is in accordance with China’s national interest, and is not dependent on the US presidency.

“The fundamental incentive is China’s need to drive growth by escalating the economic transition, improving air quality, boosting growth rate by efficiency improvement, and strengthening energy security. After all, it is a matter of innovation of development path.”


UN climate talks to Trump: don't get left behind
Marlowe Hood AFP Yahoo News 10 Oct 16;

Marrakesh (Morocco) (AFP) - Stunned but defiant participants at UN climate talks in Marrakesh said Wednesday that climate change denier Donald Trump can't derail the global shift to clean energy, and that the United States would get left behind if he tried.

The US president-elect "cannot prevent the implementation" of the landmark Paris pact, inked in the French capital last December, said Segolene Royal, France's environment minister and outgoing head of the UN climate forum.

"As I speak, 103 countries representing 70 percent of (greenhouse gas) emissions have ratified it, and he cannot -- contrary to his assertions -- undo the Paris Agreement," she told French radio station RTL.

Trump has described global warming as a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese government, and has said at different times that he would "renegotiate" or "cancel" the 196-nation deal.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon congratulated Trump on his victory and said people everywhere looked to the United States to work for the common good.

"Today's global challenges demand concerted global action and joint solutions," he told journalists at the UN headquarters in New York.

Leaders and diplomats invested in decarbonising the global economy predicted the gathering momentum of that transition -- and the rising danger of global warming -- would carry the United States with it, regardless of Trump's views.

"The election campaign has passed," said Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands, whose nation is slowly disappearing under the waves.

"I expect [President-elect Donald Trump] will realise that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the US, including my own," she said in a statement.

Business leaders advanced a similar argument.

"He wants to make America great again," said We Mean Business, a coalition of several thousand companies and investors.

"Climate action provides the basis for new jobs and enhanced competitiveness in the industries of tomorrow," it said in a statement, noting that the sector employs 2.5 million in the US.

Trump has vowed to "bring back coal" and peel back greenhouse gas reduction emissions measures put in place by Barack Obama, saying they choke business growth.

France's top climate negotiator Laurence Tubiana said this "would be a disaster for the US economy."

"If the US wants to go back to coal production, to 19th century industry, fine, but I don’t see the future for US industry in this."

"Ask Google, Microsoft, Apple, Walmart – even General Motors. I don’t think they agree."

America is the world's second-largest greenhouse gas polluter after China, representing some 13 percent of emissions.

Trump's threats, if carried out, would recast the United States as a climate villain, which is how it was widely perceived after George W. Bush refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in 2001.

The Obama administration has been an ardent champion of the Paris Agreement, a role Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, had vowed to continue.

Veteran climate analysts said a Trump White House would pay a heavy price if they simply abandoned the UN talks, today tasked with implementing last year's historic pact.

"If the US pulls out and is seen as going as a rogue nation on climate change, that will have implications for everything else on President Trump's agenda when he want to deal with foreign leaders," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington-based thinktank.

The election, he added, was certain to put US negotiators in Marrakesh in an awkward position as they defend US policy positions.

"They won't have the ability to ensure their negotiating partners that these will be the positions of the US in three months."

Climate scientists who inform political decisions also expressed alarm, with one noting that Trump's campaign rhetoric on global warming had "strolled into a fact-free zone."

"It is now to be seen how the disinformation and climate change denialism will pan out in actual decisions, actions and appointments," said Joeri Rogelj, a scientist and modeller at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, in Laxenburg, Austria.

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