Climate talks undeterred by Trump win: Lord Stern

25th November 2016

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Alistair Blackmore

There was a powerful mood of etting on with the job' at the UN climate talks (COP22) in Marrakech, despite climate sceptic Donald Trump winning the US presidential election, according to participants in the negotiations.

Lord Nick Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, reported that, despite the election of Trump, COP22 delegates were keen to implement the Paris climate agreement as quickly as possible.

‘There was practical mood, and people were still very pleased that the agreement entered into force so quickly,’ he said at a debate on the impact of Trump, the latest round of UN climate talks and Brexit,

Pete Betts, director of international climate change at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who sits on the UK UNFCCC negotiating team, said: ‘The US election result could have put a damper on proceedings, I don’t think that it did. It was striking that just about every major economy wanted to deliver on their nationally determined contribution [domestic climate change plans].’

The fact that the Paris agreement is to be delivered through a bottom-up regime where countries put forward their own plans makes it more resilient, Betts added.

Emmanuel Guérin, special adviser to the French climate ambassador, Laurence Tubiana, said the election of Trump would be the first real test of the strength of the Paris agreement.

‘Without being naïve, I’m hopeful that the agreement is resilient because of the way it was designed to put national interest first. Also, leadership is broad and shared, and doesn’t rely on just one or two countries,’ he said.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace, said: ‘I’ve heard a lot of comparisons between now and when [ex-US president George W] Bush pulled out of the Kyoto protocol. But the world is in a fundamentally different moment in history now.’

Businesses, local authorities and the public are far more engaged on climate change now than they were then, she pointed out.

Speaking about the lessons that should be learned from both the UK referendum on EU membership and US presidential election result, Guérin said that academics and policymakers needed to pay more attention to issues of fairness around the transition to the low-carbon economy.

He said: ‘There is room for self-reflection. As a climate movement, we’ve had a tendency to think that what is really important is the move to the low-carbon economy and that if it happens in a fair way, that would be a bonus.

‘But justice shouldn’t be an afterthought and a bonus, it should a fundamental condition of the success of the transition.’

Morgan said the climate change movement needed to be on the ground talking to people more and find out what their needs and priorities were so that the ‘feelings of being left behind are not channeled into a very negative place, but a positive one.’


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