Marrakesh, one year after the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

A year ago the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP 21) was heralded as an historic milestone in finally getting a majority of the international community to recognise and accept responsibility for the negative impacts of global warming. On 4 November 2016 the Paris Agreement came into force. However, in the wake of the US Presidential election, there is an air of uncertainty this week at the COP 22 gathering in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Two key developments underpin that uncertainty.

The first is that the US President-elect has stated that he does not believe that climate change is a significant environmental challenge, and he doubts that humans are a contributing factor. “I consider climate change to be not one of our big problems,” he said in September 2015.

Climate Justice pullupIn a May 2016 speech outlining his energy reform plan, the President-elect pledged to lead the United States of America towards total energy independence while accounting for “rational environmental concerns” like clean air and water. His proposal called for, among other things, expanding domestic production of oil and gas, lifting moratoriums on energy production on federal lands, permitting the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, voiding the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, and walking away from the Paris climate deal. The United States, he stated, should pursue all forms of energy, including renewables, but should not preference one source over another.

The second uncertainty concerns the probable appointment of key oil and fossil fuel friendly personnel at the heart of the new US Administration such as Sarah Palin and Myron Ebell, both climate sceptics.

In an article published on 14 November 2016 by the news agency IRIN, ‘The battle to stop Trump hijacking the climate agenda’, Lou del Bello, a freelance journalist reporting from Marrakesh, highlights how strategic alliances are coming together to explore how the international community can curtail the damage a Trump administration might do to recent progress.

“Trump has already managed to hijack Marrakesh,” writes del Bello. “But what’s all the more galling for world leaders and officials attending this week is that nobody knows what that means for the climate agreement when the former tycoon and TV celebrity is inaugurated in January next year.”

In a defiant note, del Bello quotes Avipsa Mahapatra, from the Environmental Investigation Agency which tackles environmental crimes, who believes the weight of public opinion, built up over the past 20 years in support of the green economy, should not be underestimated by the Trump Administration:

“There is a strong ground-up momentum on climate action in the US and globally, that any country or world leader would be foolish to question.”

To read the full IRIN article, click here:

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