Hollande says US must respect commitments on climate change

France and UN caution US president-elect Trump on risks of quitting 2015 global plan

Climate change: A source on Donald Trump’s transition team said the president-elect is seeking ways of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement within a year. Photograph: Getty Images

Climate change: A source on Donald Trump’s transition team said the president-elect is seeking ways of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement within a year. Photograph: Getty Images

 

France and the United Nations on Tuesday stepped up warnings to US president-elect Donald Trump about the risks of quitting a 2015 global plan to combat climate change, saying a historic shift from fossil fuels is unstoppable.

French president François Hollande, addressing almost 200 nations meeting in Morocco on ways to slow global warming, said that inaction would be “disastrous for future generations and it would be dangerous for peace”.

Both he and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called on Mr Trump, who has called man-made global warming a hoax, to drop a campaign pledge to cancel the global 2015 Paris Agreement that aims to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energies.

“The United States, the largest economic power in the world, the second largest greenhouse gas emitter, must respect the commitments it has undertaken,” said President Hollande to applause. The agreement was “irreversible”, he said.

In such UN meetings, it is very rare for leaders to single out others for even veiled criticism. Mr Hollande and Mr Ban were among the architects of the Paris Agreement.

“What was once unthinkable has become unstoppable,” said Mr Ban at a news conference of the landmark Paris deal, agreed by almost 200 governments last year after two decades of tortuous negotiations. The accord formally entered into force on November 4th after a record swift ratification.

Mr Ban said Mr Trump, as a “very successful business person”, would understand that market forces were driving the world economy towards cleaner energies such as wind and solar power, which are becoming cheaper, [and] away from fossil fuels.

“I am sure he [Trump] will make a fast and wise decision,” on the Paris Agreement, said Mr Ban, adding that he had spoken to US president-elect by telephone after his victory and planned to meet him in person.

Mr Ban, who has made climate change a core part of his 10-year stewardship which ends this year, said climate change was having a severe effect from the Arctic to Antarctica and that 2016 is on track to be the warmest year on record.

Emissions

Mr Trump has said he wants to boost the US coal, oil and shale industries, abandoning President Barack Obama’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The Paris accord, which aims to phase out net greenhouse gas emissions this century, was driven by increased scientific certainty that man-made emissions drive heat waves, floods and rising sea levels.

Mr Ban said that companies including General Mills and Kellogg, states such as California and cities such as Nashville and Las Vegas were working to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Trump’s victory has overshadowed the November 7th-18th Marrakesh meeting, which had opened with congratulations after the entry into force of the agreement on November 4th. It now has formal backing from 110 nations including the United States.

Mr Trump’s victory has lifted shares in coal producers, while knocking renewable energies.

Shares in coal producer Peabody, in bankruptcy proceedings, have surged 63 per cent since the election. And shares in Arch Coal in the United States were up 19 per cent.

By contrast, the S&P Global Clean Energy Index has fallen near its lowest level since June. Shares in Denmark’s Vestas, the world’s biggest wind turbine maker, are down 6 per cent from the US election day on November 8th.

Benjamin Sporton, chief executive of the World Coal Association, said that although Trump would “make life a little bit better for coal in the United States” it would not solve many underlying problems.

“The fundamental pressure is from the low prices of shale gas and that means that there will be a lot of challenges to the expansion of coal,” he said.

A source on Mr Trump’s transition team said the president-elect is seeking ways of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement within a year, bypassing a theoretical four-year wait.

Delegates in Marrakesh say that US withdrawal could dent other nations’ willingness to work with Mr Trump on other issues he cares about, such as immigration, trade or terrorism.

Nations as diverse as China, Opec states and small island states have reaffirmed support for the Paris Agreement.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said on Tuesday that Opec’s biggest producer was “committed to meeting the world’s energy needs via the gradual transition towards a more environmentally sustainable future”.

– (Reuters)