US President-Elect Donald Trump has made his views on climate change quite clear, so his recent election sent shock waves across the pavilions at the COP22 climate conference that just wrapped up in Marrakesh. Trump’s comments – that climate change is a concept created by China – led China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin to issue a public statement setting the record straight. For the international community, which has devoted such an incredible amount of time and effort into getting a global agreement in Paris last year, Trump’s success felt like a tough test of resolve and of political leadership at such an early stage of implementation.
However, quite surprisingly, there was no defeatism; on the contrary, it generated a higher sense of purpose. Perhaps it might have been just what was needed to solidify collaboration, fuel continued determination and spark new appetite for leadership. Events that unfolded in the first weeks following the US election certainly suggest this is the case.
By the end of COP22, 111 countries had ratified the Paris Agreement and the number continues to rise; 47 of the world’s most vulnerable countries made a commitment to 100% renewable energy; and four countries – the US, Mexico, Canada and Germany – presented their plans to decarbonize their economies by 2050, a partnership that 15 cities and nearly 200 businesses have indicated they will join.
It seems quite clear that government leaders across the globe…