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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Climate change: Mixed reactions greet Donald Trump’s victory

As news of Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential Election on Wednesday spread across the world and reached Marrakech, the Moroccan ancient city hosting the ongoing UN climate change talks, administrators and civil society groups have been reacting to the somewhat shocking development.

US president-elect, Donald Trump
US president-elect, Donald Trump

Republican Trump, an unapologetic climate denier, defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, who said prior to the election that she would continue and extend Obama’s climate policies, including striving to reach the U.S.’s Paris Agreement target of cutting the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent or more below 2005 levels by 2025.

Trump, on the other hand, said he was “not a big believer in man-made climate change”, and that he would “cancel” the Paris Climate Agreement.

While a section of the global community believe that they must unite against Trump to avoid climate catastrophe, others say that a Trump Presidency will not have a negative impact on climate diplomacy as many countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, and that the Paris momentum will continue no matter who is the US President.

COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar: “As President of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), I would like to congratulate Mr. Donald Trump on his election to the presidency of the United States of America. Now that the Paris Agreement has entered into force, all countries, along with subnational governments and non-state actors, have the shared responsibility to continue the great progress achieved to date.

“The climate change question transcends politics and concerns the preservation of our livelihood, dignity and the only planet on which we all live. We are convinced that all Parties will respect their commitments and stay the course in this collective effort. The Presidency will continue to discuss and mobilise in order to pursue progress already made with all Parties and in a spirit of inclusiveness and determination, particularly with the new American administration.”

Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, stated: “Trump’s election clarifies the fact that the USA as leader of the rich industrialised world seriously undermined the Kyoto Protocol – the only legally binding emissions reduction regime we have had. Outgoing President Obama brought in the Copenhagen Accord at COP15, birthing the voluntary pledge and review system that has now concretised in the Nationally Determined Contributions. The world applauds the Paris Agreement, the USA steps up as a climate champion, but in reality we are avoiding real emissions reduction and global warming is heading in the dangerous direction beyond the acclaimed 1.5 and well below 2 degrees Celsius target.

“Trump stands apart from climate action and offers citizens of the world the inescapable duty to mobilise and support struggles for climate justice and action. And, most importantly, to support ongoing struggles like that at Standing Rock in the USA itself as they stand a chance of being criminalised due to the platform created by the election. In sum, the election exposes the problem in stark colours; exposes victims to higher threats and places a huge question mark on the Paris Agreement.”

Mithika Mwenda, Secretary General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA): “Yes, we have received Trump’s victory with a lot of concern. While we respect the verdict of US voters, we are quite apprehensive that the Trump Administration will roll back the little gains already achieved in climate policy making in US. He has made it clear that he will   nullify President Obama’s signing of the Paris Agreement, terming climate change a Chinese hoax! This is dangerous for the Planet and humanity. It is the people of the US who should make Trump retract his dangerously populist proclamation as he now is a leader of the most powerful nation.”

Jesse Bragg, from Boston-based Corporate Accountability International: “Whilst the election of a climate denier into the White House sends the wrong signal globally. The grassroots movements for climate justice – native American communities, people of colour, working people – those that are at this moment defending water rights in Dakota, ending fossil fuel pollution, divesting from the fossil fuel industry, standing with communities who are losing their homes and livelihoods from extreme weather devastation to creating a renewable energy transformation – are the real beating heart of the movement for change. We will redouble our efforts, grow stronger and remain committed to stand with those on the frontline of climate injustice at home and abroad. In the absence of leadership from our government, the international community must come together redouble their effort to prevent climate disaster.”

“For communities in the global south, the U.S. citizens’ choice to elect Donald Trump seems like a death sentence. Already we are suffering the effects of climate change after years of inaction by rich countries like the U.S., and with an unhinged climate change denier now in the White House, the relatively small progress made is under threat. The international community must not allow itself to be dragged into a race to the bottom. Other developed countries like Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan must increase their pledges for pollution cuts and increase their financial support for our communities,” said Wilfred D’Costa from the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development.

“The Paris Agreement was signed and ratified not by a President, but by the United States itself. One man alone, especially in the twenty-first century, should not strip the globe of the climate progress that it has made and should continue to make. As a matter of international law, and as a matter of human survival, the nations of the world can, must, and will hold the United States to its climate commitments. And it’s incumbent upon U.S. communities to unite and push forth progressive climate policies on a state and local level, where federal policy does not reign,” said Jean Su of the California-based Centre for Biological Diversity.

“As a young woman and first-time voter, I will not tolerate Trump’s denialism of the action needed for climate justice. Our country must undergo a systemic change and just transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy within my lifetime. The next four years are critical for getting on the right pathway, and the disastrous election of Trump serves as a solemn reminder of the path ahead of us. As young people and as climate justice movements we will be demanding real action on climate for the sake of our brothers and sisters around the world and for all future generations,” said Becky Chung from the youth network, SustainUS.

“Africa is already burning. The election of Trump is a disaster for our continent. The United States, if it follows through on its new President’s rash words about withdrawing from the international climate regime, will become a pariah state in global efforts for climate action. This is a moment where the rest of the world must not waver and must redouble commitments to tackle dangerous climate change,” said Geoffrey Kamese from Friends of the Earth Africa.

“President-elect Donald Trump has been the source of a lot of bluster on climate change over the last year, but now that the election campaign has passed and the realities of leadership settle in, I expect he will realise that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the US including my own. The Paris Agreement on climate change became law so quickly because there is a significant national interest for each country in pursuing aggressive climate action and that fact has not changed because of the US election.  For the Marshall Islands, strong climate action means surviving and thriving. I look forward to watching Mr Trump live up to his responsibility to protect his people, and others around the world, to provide them with opportunities inherent in the low carbon transition, from more and better jobs, a more prosperous economy and improved health,” submitted Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“Beyond national politics, modernisation of the energy system and of basic infrastructure is good for the US economy, for jobs, for growth,” stated Christiana Figueres, Convenor of Mission 2020 and former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.

Christoph Bals, Policy Director of the German NGO Germanwatch:  “Donald Trump is the newly elected President of the United States. As of today, the Paris Agreement is an even stronger signal against denying reality and for global cooperation to solve the pressing problems of the world. You cannot ignore the facts. You cannot wish away the reality of the global climate crisis, of the global energy and transport transition or the commitments of the Paris Agreement. This wake-up call will make us fight even harder for human rights, for justice and against climate change.”

Ulriikka Aarnio, International Climate Policy Coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe: “It is regrettable that the next US President has not yet understood that the world is on track to phase out fossil fuels. While it is clear that Mr Trump cannot withdraw the US nor undermine the Paris Agreement, there is a risk for the US to miss the boat in a race to a renewable future. There is however no fear that the world’s ongoing energy shift would be troubled by this election result. As more than a half of all countries in the world have ratified the Paris Agreement, it is clear that the Paris momentum will continue no matter who the President of the US is.”

Nathaniel Keohane, Vice President, Global Climate, Environmental Defence Fund: “The next president will be able to make an enormous difference in our fight to protect the long-term health and prosperity of the U.S. and the world. U.S. leadership and climate diplomacy was critical to the climate successes achieved at Paris, and our next president will have the responsibility to establish the U.S. emission target for 2030 – an opportunity to demonstrate continued leadership by putting the country on a path to zero net emissions later this century.”

Michael Wilkins, Managing Director Environmental & Climate Risk Research, Global Infrastructure Ratings, Standard and Poors: “S&P Global supports worldwide sustainability and takes a holistic approach to responsible, sustainable alternatives. As a company, we are focused on decreasing our own energy consumption and since 2013 we have decreased energy use by 22%. We are excited to provide the new administration with the research, data and analytics it will need to further sustainable initiatives here in the States and that set the standard worldwide.”

Achim Steiner, Director of Oxford Martin School and former Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP): “The outcome of the US election clearly implies potential shifts in climate policy of the new US administration. While this creates uncertainty in a domestic and international context, a pragmatic assessment is called for. Notwithstanding short term changes in US posture and policy, the global economy has already begun to shift its focus towards a low carbon future. Markets and economics are likely to moderate any future US policy shift as US companies and investors assess what will keep America’s economy competitive and in business in a global market – given that some its largest trading partners and competitors are already heavily investing in low carbon technologies and infrastructure. Add to that the rapidly growing number of US companies already employing millions of people in low carbon sectors and you can expect a strong domestic voice influencing future policy signals of the incoming administration in Washington.”

Mohamed Adow, Senior Climate Advisor, Christian Aid: “The economics of energy are already changing rapidly, home grown wind and solar are increasingly becoming the cheapest forms of energy and falling costs in technology continue to show us the direction of travel. The benefits are already being recognised by a number of US states which are harnessing their abundant clean energy resources. It’s also popular with the American public. A recent Pew Research Centre study showed that 83 per cent of American adults support expanding wind farms, while 89 per cent support solar expansion.  Although the US will certainly suffer from any obstruction of efforts to stop climate change, it also risks the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people who have done nothing to cause the problem yet are the most vulnerable to its effects.”

Tina Johnson, Policy Director, US Climate Action Network: “President-elect Trump has the opportunity to catalyse further action on climate that sends a clear signal to investors to keep the transition to a renewable-powered economy on track. China, India, and other economic competitors are racing to be the global clean energy superpower, and the US doesn’t want to be left behind.”

Maya Golden-Krasner, Senior Attorney, Centre for Biological Diversity: “The new president must protect the people he serves from climate chaos. No personal belief or political affiliation can change the stark truth that every new oil well and pipeline pushes us closer to catastrophe. The administration has moral and legal obligations to meet international commitments and go further to curb pollution and keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground.”

Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club: “Donald Trump now has the unflattering distinction of being the only head of state in the entire world to reject the scientific consensus that humans are driving climate change. No matter what happens, Donald Trump can’t change the fact that wind and solar energy are rapidly becoming more affordable and accessible than dirty fossil fuels. With both the market and grassroots environmental advocacy moving us toward clean energy, there is still a strong path forward for reducing climate pollution even under a Trump presidency. Still, this is a time for tough choices. Trump must choose whether he will be a President remembered for putting America and the world on a path to climate disaster, or for listening to the American public and keeping us on a path to climate progress. Trump better choose wisely, otherwise – we can guarantee him the hardest fight of his life every step of the way.”

Mariana Panuncio-Feldman, World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) senior director of international climate cooperation: “We have a new administration and a new opportunity to surge forward on climate action. The Obama administration moved mountains to rally the world around combatting climate change. Our new president needs to carry that legacy forward and make good on the promise to make America into the world’s clean energy superpower. US leadership is needed to turn the international consensus of the Paris Agreement into concrete global action, and it starts by charting our own path to a low-carbon future.”

May Boeve, Executive Director,350.org: “Trump’s election is a disaster, but it cannot be the end of the international climate process. We’re not giving up the fight and neither should the international community. Trump will try and slam the brakes on climate action, which means we need to throw all of our weight on the accelerator. In the United States, the climate movement will put everything on the line to protect the progress we’ve made and continue to push for bold action. We need the rest of the world to charge ahead and look beyond the White House to partner with civil society, businesses, and local governments who are still committed to climate action. Our work becomes much harder now, but it’s not impossible, and we refuse to give up hope.”

Kelly Stone, ActionAid Policy Analyst: “Climate change is already having major impacts on the lives of millions of people in the United States and around the world. Droughts, flooding and other types of extreme weather events are becoming stronger and more frequent, and the U.S. is not immune. This is a global crisis that President-elect Trump will have to address. “The U.S. has joined the Paris Agreement and must continue to meet its climate obligations. Leaving this important international agreement will damage our credibility with important overseas partners and would be a major setback in the fight against climate change.”

Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada: “The world knows that a prosperous future is one that runs on clean energy.Despite the election outcome, cities and businesses and other countries will continue to lead on climate and work to ensure a fair, practical transition for workers entering the new economy. At the North American Leaders’ Summit in June, Canada, Mexico and the United States agreed to work together to develop a continent-wide clean electricity grid and to reduce methane emissions. These actions serve our national and regional interests as much today as they did yesterday.”

Celia Gautier, CAN-RAC France: “At the time of the Kyoto Protocol’s adoption, with the election of President Bush, the EU was key in maintaining the international climate regime and cooperation, that 10 years later led to the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Today’s news should be a wake up call for the EU. Regardless of how Donald Trump decides to act on climate, all countries including Europe have to step up. The political landscape in the US may have changed, but the reality of climate change hasn’t. The reality of climate risks hasn’t. The reality of the multiple co-benefits brought by strong, ambitious climate action hasn’t. In the EU, for each 1% of energy efficiency being achieved, seven million people are lifted out of poverty.”

Ryan Camero, Media and Communications Lead, SustainUS: “On this horrific morning, U.S. youth denounce and grieve the election of Donald Trump. We stand in global solidarity with communities all over the world that have been impacted by U.S. climate injustice and imperialism. We also stand with marginalised communities across the U.S. who wakes up in fear this morning: fear of deportation, fear of violence, fear of being silenced, imprisoned or killed in their struggles. It is now up to us to enact the just and stable future we believe in.”

Climate Action Network (CAN): “No one government or individual, however powerful, can deny the transformational change that is unfolding before us and the growing scientific evidence that we need to act urgently to move away from destructive fossil fuels and embrace a 100% renewable energy future. President-elect Trump must recognise the moral, economic and social imperative to lead and act on climate change and carry forward the commitments made by the United States under the Paris Agreement.”

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