Trump & climate change: a speed bump not a roadblock

We learned of Trump’s election on the first Wednesday morning of the UN climate summit in Marrakech, COP22. This news was shocking to many who had gathered at the Bab Ighli conference venue to advance the urgent business of preventing dangerous climate change. The election of someone who rejected not just American leadership, but any kind of responsible position in this area, was particularly hard on the dedicated US public servants who had negotiated the Paris outcomes over the course of years.

It was not then clear exactly what impact Trump’s election would have on global climate cooperation and the US contribution to it. The second week of the Marrakech conference featured leaders from American state and city governments and the private sector assuring the international community that while their federal government might be stepping back from serious action based on reality, they would not.

Now that the White House has decided to abandon both its freely accepted responsibilities and the associated opportunities of the 21st century economy, the necessary response is clear: for all responsible nations to reinforce commitment to the Paris accord and the hope it represents for all people, but particularly for those most vulnerable to climate change and least able to cope with its consequences.

The immediate responses in Europe and elsewhere indicate that this is exactly what is now occurring. Building on this momentum will ensure that when it comes to effective global action on climate change, the Trump administration is a speed bump not a roadblock.

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