China warns Trump against abandoning the Paris deal
In a sign of how far the world has shifted in recognising the need to tackle the global warming problem, China, the largest CO2 polluter; once seen as an obstructive force in UN climate talks, is now leading the push for progress, by responding to fears that Mr Trump would pull the US out of the landmark Paris climate agreement.
“It is global society’s will that all want to co-operate to combat climate change,” a senior Beijing negotiator said in Marrakesh on Friday, at the first round of UN talks since the Paris deal was sealed last December. The Chinese negotiators added that “any movement by the new US government” would not affect their transition towards becoming a greener economy.
India also joined in the warnings, saying Mr Trump’s appointment would force countries to reassess an accord hailed as an end to the fossil fuel era.
“Everyone will rethink how this whole process is going to unfold,” India’s chief negotiator, Ravi Prasad, told the Financial Times.
Recalling the way support for the earlier Kyoto protocol climate treaty crumbled after it was abandoned by another Republican president, George W Bush, Mr Prasad said he feared the Paris accord could suffer “a contagious disease that spreads” if the US withdrew.
Mr Trump’s sweeping victory on Tuesday has shaken what had appeared to be an unstoppable bout of global action to tackle climate change in the run-up to the two-week Marrakesh talks, which began on Monday.
Governments struck the first climate deal for aviation in October, just days before agreeing to phase out planet-warming hydrofluorocarbon chemicals used in air-conditioners.
The Moroccan hosts of this week’s talks had been planning a celebratory meeting to cap this unprecedented bout of activity. Instead, organisers awoke on Wednesday morning to find the world’s wealthiest country had a president-elect who has called global warming a hoax, pledged to “cancel” the Paris agreement and vowed to stop US funding of UN climate programmes entirely.
“They were in absolute shock,” said one person who saw Moroccan officials on Wednesday morning.
Adnan Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said “a sense of helplessness” had pervaded the Marrakesh talks, and “a certain amount of fear”.
The EU and Japan also reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement, which requires all countries to come up with a plan to curb climate change in order to stop global temperatures from rising more than 2C from pre-industrial times.
But neither they nor China were willing to offer extra cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to fill the vacuum a US withdrawal would create, nor additional money for an agreement requiring billions of dollars in public and private funds to be channelled from rich to poor countries to tackle climate change.