Officials celebrate after the passage of the Marrakech Proclamation on Nov. 17, 2016. Image: Mosa’ab Elshamy/AP
Faced with the possibility that President-elect Donald J. Trump will try to pull the U.S. away from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, more than 190 countries performed the diplomatic equivalent of subtweeting Trump.
Near the closing of the latest round of U.N. climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco, diplomats agreed to issue a document known as the “Marrakech Action Proclamation.” The proclamation makes clear that countries are all in on fighting climate change, regardless of what a Trump administration does.
“Our climate is warming at an alarming and unprecedented rate and we have an urgent duty to respond,” the proclamation states.
It goes on to say:
Indeed, this year, we have seen extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide, and in many multilateral fora. This momentum is irreversible – it is being driven not only by governments, but by science, business and global action of all types at all levels…
We call for the highest political commitment to combat climate change, as a matter of urgent priority
Documents like this must be passed by consensus during U.N. climate talks, which means that any objections can scuttle their adoption.
The fact that this made it through, reportedly to cheers from participants and observers, indicates the solidarity among the international community — including representatives of the Obama administration — to move forward with the Paris agreement regardless of what the U.S. does.
In other words, if the U.S. backtracks, it will be walking a lonely road.
The Paris Climate Agreement, which entered force on Nov. 4, set a goal of limiting human-caused global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels.
It also sets an aspirational goal that is more stringent, at 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, to more confidently ensure the survival of low-lying island nations vulnerable to sea level rise.
In addition to the proclamation, an alliance of 47 of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, such as Ethiopia and the Marshall Islands, committed to transforming their economies to rely 100 percent on renewable power “as rapidly as possible.”
Negotiators have been meeting in Marrakech to determine how to implement the agreement, but Trump’s election has cast a shadow of uncertainty over much of the meeting.
During the campaign, Trump called climate change a “hoax” and vowed to stop spending money on programs that help vulnerable nations adapt to climate impacts. He also pledged to revive the ailing and pollution-intensive coal sector, and maligned wind turbines for killing birds.
While the world signals its resolve for tackling global warming, American environmental groups are signaling that Trump will be in for a major fight if he tries to roll back global warming policies, such as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan that limits emissions from coal-fired power plants.
“The Paris Agreement represents the bare minimum of what is necessary to preserve a livable planet. We need more action, not less,” said Mary Boeve, executive director of 350.org, in a statement.
“Scientists are very clear that we do not have four years to waste waiting for the United States to come back to the table. It’s all of our responsibility to make sure we continue to raise the level of ambition rather than let Trump drag us under the rising seas,” Boeve said.
The Marrakech talks have been taking place during the planet’s hottest year on record, and at a time when greenhouse gas concentrations are at the highest level in all of human history, and increasing quickly. ■
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