Donald Trump’s Victory Injects Shock And Uncertainty Into UN Climate Talk

  • Date: 09/11/16
  • Amy Harder and Sarah Kent, The Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump’s surprise victory is injecting a wave of shock and uncertainty into a global climate conference that began this week in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Image result for American students react to Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential election, as they take part in a protest outside the U.N. climate talks during the international climate conference in Marrakech on Wednesday.

American students react to Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, as they take part in a protest outside the U.N. climate talks during the international climate conference in Marrakesh on Wednesday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Mr. Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, said he would cancel an accord the Obama administration helped broker among nearly 200 nations last year in Paris and would cut off U.S. aid to a $100 billion global fund to help poorer nations address climate change.

“There is a bit of shock across many of the corridors about what it means,” said Dirk Forrister, CEO and president of the International Emissions Trading Association, a business group supporting market-based policies addressing climate change, when reached by phone in Marrakesh on Wednesday.

Many government officials at the Marrakesh gathering aren’t speaking publicly about the U.S. election, but some issued statements indicating they would be cautiously urging Mr. Trump to keep working on climate issues.

“The world can count on [the European Union]to continue to lead on climate and drive the global clean energy transition,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union’s commissioner for climate and energy, in a tweet earlier Wednesday. “We need all our partners on board.”

In addition to pledging to undo the Paris global climate deal, Mr. Trump has also vowed to undo President Barack Obama’s signature domestic climate rule cutting carbon emissions from power plants, along with a raft of other environmental regulations.

“Climate change policy is going to come to a screeching halt,” said Robert McNally, president of energy-advisory firm the Rapidan Group and a former adviser to President George W. Bush. “The Paris Agreement from a U.S. perspective is a dead agreement walking.”

The United Nations conference kicking off in Marrakesh this week was supposed to begin the hard technical process of implementing the Paris deal after world leaders already took the hard steps to agree to the plan. Mr. Trump’s unexpected victory reopens the politics of the deal.

“Nations need to do what they want to do in their self interest, but the U.S. has made a climate pledge and that’s something they’ve put on the table and we’ll have so see how that develops,” said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

While Mr. Trump can’t unilaterally cancel the Paris deal, he could begin the lengthy process of officially withdrawing the U.S. from it, which could take years. Since the deal is officially in effect, a country must wait three years to pull out, and once it makes that decision, it must wait another year to actually do so.

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), an energy adviser to Mr. Trump, also recently said he could require the GOP-controlled Senate to ratify the deal, a move that would be unlikely to muster the necessary support to pass.

Mr. Trump’s campaign said earlier this year that he would review a 2009 scientific finding the Obama administration issued that is the legal underpinning of the outgoing president’s entire regulatory apparatus addressing climate change.

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