Wed 16th Nov: “Donald Trump must not make any 'irrevocable choices' over climate change, warns John Kerry”
'No one has the right to make decisions that affect billions of people based solely on ideology or without proper input,' says the US Secretary of State.
John Kerry has warned President-elect Donald Trump not to make any “irrevocable choices” before he has the chance to see for himself the devastating impact of man-made climate change.
The US Secretary of State’s arrival here at the UN climate summit in Marrakech brought with it a clear sense of urgency - as if it was dawning on delegates that they have little more than two days left to save the world from the looming threat of a Trump administration.
In his much-awaited address, the last he will give to a UN climate summit in his current capacity, Mr Kerry reached for the strongest language possible in a setting such as this, warning that a failure to tackle climate change would be a “moral failure, a betrayal of devastating consequences”.
But he also continued a theme that has emerged at the talks so far by failing to mention Mr Trump by name. It is as though some delegates hope that by ignoring the orange-tinted elephant in the room, he will simply go away.
Mr Trump is seemingly such a threat to these talks because he has previously described climate change as a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, repeatedly questioning the scientific evidence for man-made global warming.
And the President-elect has specifically threatened to “cancel” the Paris Agreement, the plan for action to limit global temperature rises that has been ratified by 110 countries - including the US.
There was no mistaking the target of Mr Kerry’s keynote address on Wednesday afternoon, as he warned that the “overwhelming majority” of Americans were aware of the threat of climate change and praised the Paris deal as “built to last”. “We have to continue the fight,” he said.
The closest he came to addressing Mr Trump directly came when he urged: “For those in power in all parts of world including my own, I ask you: see for yourself before making irrevocable choices.”
He said: "No one has the right to make decisions that affect billions of people based solely on ideology or without proper input“.
Moments before Mr Kerry’s speech, President Barack Obama was speaking on a state visit to Greece. He too refused to mention Mr Trump by name.
Climate activists admit there is still something of an air of disbelief to the conference, a week after their worst fears were realised at the US ballot box.
Avipsa Mahapatra, from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) campaign group, told The Independent that delegates were being “cautious” - hoping that if Mr Trump is not provoked too much, his newfound “politeness” since winning the election can be converted a full-blown change of heart.
“Right now he is still just President-elect - so it is tricky to talk about [a Trump administration] while there are no clear policies. We have to wait and watch what kind of Trump we get as president.
“After spending so much effort getting here, we don’t want to believe it could all fall apart,” she added.
But not everyone is refusing to tackle the issue of the US President-elect head on. In a joint letter revealed at a press conference at the summit, 366 American businesses and investors urged Mr Trump to see the financial sense behind supporting green initiatives.
Addressed to Mr Trump and speaking in a language that they hope he will understand, the business leaders warned that “failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk”.
“Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement will enable and encourage businesses and investors to turn the billions of dollars in existing low-carbon investments into the trillions of dollars the world needs to bring clean energy prosperity to all,” the letter read.
A dozen Fortune 500 firms were among the signatories, and brands represented included Mars, Hewlett Packard, Hilton and General Mills.
Matt Patsky, CEO of Trillium Asset Management, said virtually every Fortune 500 business has acknowledged “the reality of climate change”.
“The enormous momentum generated by the business and investment community to address climate change cannot be reversed and cannot be ignored by the Trump administration,” he said. “That train has left the station and to stand in its way is folly.”
Wed 16th Nov: At COP22 In Morocco, Secretary Of State John Kerry Affirms U.S. Commitment To Address Climate Change
Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed the US commitment to addressing global climate change here at the UN climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco. Marrakech serves as host city for the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The world must now wait to see if the incoming Trump administration will honour those commitments, or if the US will become a rogue nation that denies the very existence of climate change as a hoax “created by and for the Chinese to make US manufacturing less competitive.” Once inaugurated, Trump will stand as THE ONLY head-of-state who denies the science of climate change.
Kerry stated, “No one should doubt the overwhelming majority of Americans who know climate change is occurring and are committed to addressing it.” He noted how “The world is unified” and moved so quickly to bring the Paris Agreement into force. “The US is on our way to meeting all of our climate commitments.” Kerry emphasized that the primary driver of emissions reduction is market place forces. “Investing in clean energy simply makes economic sense...[clean energy] is a multi-trillion dollar market, the largest the world has ever known.”
Kerry acknowledged, “Time is not our side.” Morocco hosted COP7 in 2001. “Since then, we have experienced our 16 hottest years in history...Even the strongest sceptic has to acknowledge that something is happening.”
Kerry stated, “I underscore today, we don’t get a second chance.” Science warns “some thresholds, if we cross them, cannot be reversed...Wise public policy demands that we take [informed action] now...This is about choices.”
Yesterday, King Mohammad VI welcomed dignitaries to the COP22 High-Level Segment in Morocco, “the land of dialog and coexistence, the crossroads of civilizations.” Marrakech is a gritty, bustling commercial hub nestled on a plateau surrounded by the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. While the city basks under clear, blue, sunny skies, negotiators and attendees at the nearby COP labour under a dark cloud of uncertainty due to the outcome of the recent US presidential elections. During the run-up to the election, Trump proclaimed that he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on day-one of his presidency. The historic Paris Agreement turned our global economic ship away from fossil fuels and toward a low carbon future last December when 196 Parties to the UNFCCC approved The Agreement at COP21 in Paris.
November 2016 may turn out to be a true turning point in the global climate change story, or it may ultimately go down in history as a month of infamy. The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016. COP22 opened 3 days later on November 7, dubbed ‘The COP of Action‘. A day later, the outcome of the US elections shocked the world as a minority of US voters were able to elect climate denier Trump under the US Electoral College system.
COP22 serves as the first meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement, called “CMA1“. As such, CMA1 will establish the governing body of the Paris Agreement with authority over all administrative, procedural, operational, and substantive matters.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon counselled yesterday that “countries have strongly supported the [Paris] Agreement because they realize their own national interest is best secured by pursuing the common good.” However, Trump disdains science and is surrounding himself with self-proclaimed climate sceptics. He announced Stephen K. Bannon, a right-wing media agitator, to serve as his senior counsellor and chief strategist. He is eyeing climate sceptic Myron Ebell to lead the EPA. He appears to be tapping fossil fuel barons and anti-environmental regulation industrialists to stack his senior administration. He is rumoured to be considering Sarah ‘drill-baby-drill’ Palin for Secretary of the Interior. Will this inner working circle heed Ban’s warning that “no country, however resourceful or powerful, is immune from the impacts of climate change”?
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a provisional statement here in Morocco just two days ago projecting that “2016 is on track to be the hottest year on record” and that “long-term climate indicators are also record breaking.” 2015 currently holds the record for hottest year. The WMO Statement was released to inform COP22 negotiations.
At his press briefing today, Kerry implored “to those in power. I ask you on behalf of billions of people around the world, do your due diligence before making decisions...consult with the scientists.” He asked, “Do we have the collective will?”
That question was in-part answered by a coalition of global civil society groups who united with US Climate Action Network in an ‘Action’ connected to Kerry’s visit. Their fundamental message stated, “We as an international community—the entire international community—are committed to continuing action on climate change. The people of the United States have the opportunity to show leadership and cooperation with the global community. We are committed to upholding the commitments our country has made and activing decisively to confront the climate crisis.”
Source: Huffington Post
Thu 17th Nov: COP22: Who is left to save the world if America pulls out of Paris Agreement?
Barack Obama was one of the climate's greatest champions, but Trump will not follow in his footsteps. Could China or Europe step in and take advantage?
Barack Obama can claim a great deal of credit for bringing the world together in support of the Paris Agreement to limit climate change at last year’s summit, and “Team America” has led from the front in climate action for 20 years.
But the US President-elect has threatened to “cancel” the Paris accord, scrap all American contributions to UN climate programmes and denounced the very concept of man-made climate change as a Chinese hoax.
One theme emerging from the summit is the idea that shifting to a greener planet is not a matter of sinking money into an endless budget for “aid”, but a business opportunity.
And if Mr Trump can’t be convinced of that, there is no shortage of other world powers willing to step into America’s shoes.
The gloom in the wake of the Trump victory has focussed on the US's role as the world’s second-greatest polluter, responsible for 13 per cent of global emissions.
But Chinese representatives here point out the ‘gigantic size” of its own emissions - Chinese real estate alone accounts for eight per cent of global emissions, similar to the total emission of the EU.
One part of China’s plan involves phasing out steel and cement emissions by 2050 - scheme which, on its own, would cut as much pollution as the entire emissions of the UK (twice over).
Riffing on Mr Trump’s own claims to deal with what he sees as the problem of Mexico, a representative of one Chinese NGO joked that China would be willing to cut the equivalent of all US emissions - “particularly if President-elect Trump gets his way” - adding that “we would get the US to pay for it”.
China sees the scope for international infrastructure projects and efficiency savings that climate action entails - and when it comes to reaping the benefits, the joke is on the US.
Europe is also eying up the opportunities here, and the chance to look for a partner to the east instead of the west, particularly on a subnational level.
At a side event organised by the China-Europe Forum, delegates discussed how the landscape of global climate action is shifting - and where the impetus for making a change now falls.
Michel Lebrun, the former president of the European Committee of the Regions and the man representing the EU at the China-Europe event, said it was up to local actors to step into the breach as Trump’s election highlighted the hazards of relying on heads of state for answers.
“Local governments, business and civil society play a key role in the adaptation and mitigation process [of fighting climate change],” he said.
The suggestion is that the major cities and regions of Europe - as the cradle of Western civilisation - can lead the way to a kind of climate enlightenment.
“During this COP22 in particular we are called to defend and support a fast-tracked implementation of the Paris Agreement,” Mr LeBrun said. “This is only possible if we establish a strong ecologically committed civilisation.”
Others feel that it will fall to the world’s biggest businesses to pave the way on climate action, driven by both the dispassionate economic arguments behind green innovation and strong leadership that does not rely on public opinion for its authority.
Dr Nathaniel Keohane, vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), named Walmart as an example of a huge company making voluntary, positive steps in this field thanks largely to the “personal interest” of its CEO, Carl Douglas McMillon.
But not everyone believes there is a simple solution to the question of who will take over from the US if Mr Trump takes his country out of the global movement to stop climate change.
In his keynote speech at the summit on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the "overwhelming majority" of Americans know that climate change is happening, and that if the world fails to act it would be a “moral failure, a betrayal of devastating consequences”.
Avipsa Mahapatra, from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) campaign group, says that is “one of the messages we can take away [from the Trump victory]… that it is not about any single country”.
“Given there is very little time left if we want to stand a chance of staying below 2C [of warming] - and there is really no point in talking about 1.5C at this point - it has to be about all stakeholders, all citizens, all countries giving it all their efforts - plus some more.”