Climate diplomats push back against Trump victory

Climate diplomats push back against Trump victory

Climate diplomats push back against Trump victory

AFP photo

Stunned participants at U.N. climate talks in Marrakesh insisted Nov. 9 that climate change denier Donald Trump cannot derail the global shift to clean energy, although some called his victory in U.S. presidential elections a “disaster.” 

Trump “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 U.N. climate forum, AFP reported.

“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.

Royal noted that under the terms of the agreement, the United States must wait at least three years before seeking to withdraw.

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa congratulated Trump on his victory in a statement.

“We look forward to engaging with his administration to take the climate action agenda forward for the benefit of the peoples of the globe,” she said.

Diplomats and business leaders invested in moving the global economy from fossil fuels to renewables hope the gathering momentum of that transition will carry the United States with it, regardless of Trump’s views.

“President-elect Donald Trump has been the source of a lot of bluster on climate change over the last year,” said Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands, whose nation is slowly disappearing under the waves.

“But now that the election campaign has passed,” Heine added in her statement, “I expect he will realize that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the U.S., including my own.” 

France’s top climate negotiator Laurence Tubiana said that Trump could not defy science.

“The laws of physics are the laws of physics, and the reality of climate change is not going to change because of the U.S. elections,” she told AFP.

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.

Some green groups were far less diplomatic in their reaction to the surprise outcome of the U.S. vote.

“Trump’s election is a disaster, but it cannot be the end of the international climate process,” said May Boeve, executive director of, a global group pushing for divestment from fossil fuels.  

“Our work becomes much harder now, but it’s not impossible, and we refuse to give up hope.”