Donald Trump’s projected win over Hillary Clinton in the race for the presidency risks undermining the U.S.’s leadership in efforts to mitigate global warming just as the United Nations pushes forward with its annual talks.
Trump’s victory “will be unfavorable for the global pollution fight, though the trend to combat climate change may not change worldwide,” said Zheng Xinye, associate dean at the School of Economics at the Renmin University of China in Beijing.
Trump has questioned the science of climate change, vowed to pull out of the landmark Paris agreement reached last year and pledged to stimulate production of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.
Based on the states that have been called as of early Wednesday, Trump had 266 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to claim the White House and Clinton had collected 218. Congressional races point toward Republicans retaining control of both chambers of the legislature.
[…] The election results could prove to be a focal point of discussion at the U.N. climate talks. Envoys began gathering Monday for the annual climate talks in Marrakesh, Morocco.
The Morocco meeting was supposed to lead to a rulebook for nations to comply with the Paris climate accord. Instead, delegates drawn from energy and environment ministries could shift focus to the threat from Trump, whose victory would raise questions over the U.S. commitment to acting on global warming.
U.S. Leadership Questioned
A Trump victory could mean “the U.S. won’t be leading the world the way it led under Obama,” Kimiko Hirata, a board member at the Kiko Network, a Kyoto-based environmental group, said by phone. “It is inevitable that the momentum will lose steam. But luckily this is happening after the international negotiating framework has been put in place and the move toward decarbonization will not be turned back.”
The Paris deal, which saw 197 countries agree last year to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and work toward net zero greenhouse gas emissions, came into force last week after being ratified by almost 100 countries, including the U.S. Trump has said he would scrap the deal.
While U.S. officials have said it would be difficult for Trump or any other president to walk away from the Paris agreement, it’s not impossible for the next administration to unpick it. The U.S. is the richest among the top six polluting nations, and its support for the deal is essential to keep China and other developing economies working for cleaner industry.