Guest essay by Eric Worrall
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has warned President-elect Trump that he will not have the power to derail climate programmes, even climate programmes in the USA.
France, U.N. tell Trump action on climate change unstoppable
France and the United Nations on Tuesday stepped up warnings to U.S. 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 Francois 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 U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on 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,” Hollande said to applause. The agreement was “irreversible”, he said.
“What was once unthinkable has become unstoppable,” Ban said 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 Nov. 4 after a record swift ratification.
Ban said 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, away from fossil fuels.
“I am sure he (Trump) will make a fast and wise decision” on the Paris Agreement, Ban said, saying he had spoken to Trump by telephone after his victory and planned to meet him in person.
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.
I suspect Ban Ki-moon is overestimating American support for climate measures. Climate barely registers as an issue to the general public. Climate didn’t receive airtime in the Presidential debates. As a public priority climate action consistently comes dead last, even when the UN conducts the poll.
But wasteful climate spending is an expensive thorn in the side of an incoming US administration which has prioritised trying to contain spiralling debt, and freeing up cash for programmes people actually care about, such as fixing America’s dilapidated roads and bridges.
It is also worth remembering that under President Obama, some atrocious abuses of power occurred, such as the IRS deliberately targeting and harassing political groups opposed to Obama policies.
Video of President Obama admitting groups were targeted by the IRS for political reasons.
I’m not suggesting all US businesses which advocated climate action did so out of fear, quite obviously some companies are managed by people who are as nuts about climate change as the outgoing President. But in my opinion there is a real possibility that many US businesses went with the flow, because they were frightened of appearing to be on the wrong side of the climate issue, and of course because they wanted access to generous tax credits available for climate programmes.
It will be interesting to see whether this alleged commitment to climate action continues, under an administration which does not care whether you are a climate champion.