18 November is the last day of the COP22 – the 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference that is currently wrapping up in Marrakesh, Morocco. One of the most notable speeches of the conference was given by US Secretary of State John Kerry who was trying to soothe the mounting concerns regarding the next US President’s attitude towards global warming and environmental agenda more generally. “I can’t stand here and speculate about what policies our President-elect will pursue,” Mr Kerry said but immediately added that “In the time, I’ve spent in public life, one of the things I’ve learned is that some issues look a bit different when you’re actually in office compared to when you’re on the campaign trail.”
Donald Trump had previously spoken about ditching the historic Paris Agreement on fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gases. Shortly after his unexpected victory, he appointed climate change skeptic Myron Ebell to lead his Environmental Protection Agency transition team. US Secretary State, however, emphasized that “climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue in the first place”.
While the United States has raised some concerns as a result of its presidential election, activists and environmental organizations have been positively surprised by China, which has expressed its commitment to the Paris deal. “One of the country’s high level diplomats has assured us that climate actions will continue in China regardless of the US political situation,” said Li Shuo, the climate policy advisor for Greenpeace China. Mr Shuo also remarked that “Inside every crisis is an opportunity. China has seized this.”
With the historic Paris Agreement having recently entered into force, COP22 has also summarized this year’s Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2017, which confirmed a boost for renewable energy and positive developments in energy efficiency. While these encouraging trends are happening on a global scale, the necessary energy revolution is still happening too slowly. Experts say that despite the international consensus, there is still no guarantee that the critical goals will be met, even the most fundamental goal of holding temperature increases to two degrees warming.