‘Uphold climate pact’, companies urge Trump


More than 360 mostly American companies and investors, including a dozen Fortune 500 firms, called Wednesday on Donald Trump to uphold the 196-nation Paris climate pact.

An open letter released at high-level UN climate talks in Marrakesh called on the US president-elect to back “continued US participation in the Paris Agreement, in order to provide the long-term direction needed to keep global temperature rise below 2C,” or two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Trump has called global warming a “hoax”, and said he would “cancel” the agreement.

Ministers gathered at the UN conference on Wednesday to discuss the hot-button issue of finance for staving off dangerous climate change, while America’s top diplomat is expected to hammer home the perils of not acting swiftly.

A day after dozens of heads of state and government addressed the annual UN climate huddle, more than 100 foreign, energy and environment ministers are gathered in Marrakesh under a long shadow cast by Donald Trump’s election to the White House.

Trump has promised to “cancel” the hard-fought Paris Agreement concluded last year to limit dangerous global warming.

The Marrakesh meeting has started drafting a roadmap for putting the agreement’s goals into action, but many fear Trump will withdraw from the process, destroying the political momentum built up over years of tough negotiations.

The Paris pact sets the goal of limiting average global warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, by cutting greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

Countries, including the United States, have pledged to curb emissions under the deal by moving to renewable energy sources.

But Trump has vowed to boost oil, gas and coal.

Developing nations are insisting in Marrakesh that rich countries, which they blame for historic emissions, keep their commitments to provide the funds needed to make the costly shift away from cheap, abundant coal.

They are specifically seeking more money for “adaptation” — shoring up their defences against the effects of climate change — rising seas, harsher droughts and storms, and disease spread.

Adaptation finance will top the agenda of a ministerial meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

– Urgency –

On Tuesday, leaders of African nations and island states at high risk of climate change, urged rich nations ramp up finance.

“Implementation of the Paris Agreement is subject to mobilisation, availability and direct accessibility of adequate financial resources by developed countries for developing countries,” said President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti.

The UN, too, called for more money for adaptation — building dykes or elevating homes as protection against rising seas, improving weather warning systems, or growing climate change-resistant crops.

Less than a fifth of climate funding goes to adaptation today. The bulk is to help developing countries make the costly shift from fossil fuels to greener energy sources — called “mitigation” in UN climate jargon.

In 2009, rich nations pledged to mobilise $100 billion (93 billion euros) per year from 2020 in overall climate aid.

But the UN’s environment organ, UNEP, said as much as $300 billion may be needed by 2030 for adaptation alone, and up to $550 billion by 2050.

While the world waits for official word from Trump, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Marrakesh on Wednesday morning seeking to give the talks a morale boost.

He will give a speech “that highlights the urgency of addressing climate change and the importance of continued ambitious climate action around the world,” Washington’s top climate envoy Jonathan Pershing said on Monday.

After Trump’s election last week, Kerry said he would not change his plans to travel to Marrakesh, and that his presence was “perhaps even more important”.

© 2016 AFP

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