Monday 20 November 2017

'Climate change deal is irreversible,' Hollande tells US

France’s François Hollande speaks during the climate conference in Marrakesh. Photo: AP
France’s François Hollande speaks during the climate conference in Marrakesh. Photo: AP

Nina Chestney in Marrakesh

France and the UN stepped up warnings to US 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 François Hollande, addressing almost 200 nations meeting in Morocco on ways to slow global warming, said inaction would be "disastrous for future generations and it would be dangerous for peace".

Both he and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Mr 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," Mr Hollande said to applause. The agreement was "irreversible", he said.

In such UN meetings, it is very rare for leaders to single out others for even veiled criticism. Both Mr Hollande and Mr Ban were among the architects of the Paris Agreement.

"What was once unthinkable has become unstoppable," Mr 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 November 4 after a record swift ratification.

Mr Ban said Mr 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, Mr Ban said, saying he had spoken to Mr Trump by telephone after his victory and planned to meet him in person.

Mr Ban, who has made climate change a core part of his 10-year stewardship ending this year, said climate change was having severe impacts from the Arctic to Antarctica and that 2016 is on track to be the warmest year on record.

Mr Trump has said he wants to boost the US coal, oil and shale industries, abandoning President Barack Obama's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26pc to 28pc below 2005 levels by 2025.

The Paris accord, aiming to phase out net greenhouse gas emissions this century, was driven by increased scientific certainty that man-made emissions drive heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.

Mr 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.

Mr Trump's victory has overshadowed the Marrakesh meeting, which had opened with congratulations after the entry into force of the agreement on November 4.

It now has formal backing from 110 nations including the United States.

Mr Trump's victory has lifted shares in coal producers, while knocking renewable energies.

Shares in coal producer Peabody, in bankruptcy proceedings, have surged 63pc since the election, and shares in Arch Coal in the US were up 19pc.

By contrast, the S&P Global Clean Energy Index has fallen to around its lowest level since June.

Shares in Denmark's Vestas, the world's biggest wind turbine maker, are down 6pc from the US election day on November 8.

Irish Independent

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