China Warns Against Abandoning Climate Action
November 12, 2016
China has warned Donald Trump that he will be defying the wishes of the entire planet if he acts on his vow to back away from the Paris climate agreement after he becomes US president next January.
In a sign of how far the world has shifted in recognising the need to tackle global warming, Beijing — 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 accord.
“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”.