UNSG hopes U.S. doesn't abandon Paris pact

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The Hindu, Marrakech, Morocco

“I spoke to the President-elect last week and I remain optimistic about our efforts to control climate change,” says Ban Ki-moon.

 

As speculations of United States President-elect Donald Trump appointing oil moguls and corporate executives to his administrative team continued, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon assured the press here on Tuesday that the country will not abandon the Paris Agreement under the new government.

“I have spoken to President-elect Donald Trump last week and I remain optimistic about our efforts to control climate change,” he told a packed conference room at the Bab Ighli venue of the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) to UNFCCC here.

Mr. Ban expressed the hope that Mr. Trump would abandon his campaign rhetoric on climate change, when he said climate change was a hoax and vowed to pull out of the treaty.

Ahead of the high-level negotiations segment to the Paris Agreement beginning on Tuesday (November 15), he urged all countries to ratify the Paris Agreement and raise their ambitions to cut greenhouse gas emissions before 2020. He proudly announced that 110 countries had ratified the Agreement so far, covering about 75 per cent of global emissions.

Mr. Ban, who demits office in early 2017, emphasised that no country, however rich, was insulated from the impacts of climate change, and urged early action from all signatory countries.

Responding to a question on what would happen if the US did pull out of the accord, he said that market forces had begun to respond to incentives for producing clean energy and that Mr. Trump, being a businessman, ought to recognise the reality of the change led by the Paris Agreement.

With 2016 slated to be the hottest year on record, and several parts of the world experiencing extreme weather events as a result, Mr. Ban said: “I am hopeful Donald Trump will understand the seriousness of climate change. He will have to understand the reality and take wise decisions.”

 

Launch ceremony

 

Later, speaking at the launch ceremony of the first meeting of signatories to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1), the King Mohammad VI of Morocco expressed happiness that 80 heads of state were attending the Marrakech summit.

It was only appropriate that the UN climate summit was happening in Africa, as various countries in the continent were tackling the adverse effects of climate change, the King said. He emphasised that the era of colonialism was over and countries had to work hand in hand now to tackle problems such as climate change.

“The logic of imposing decisions is over. Countries must not be pressed into accepting decisions they cannot comply with. When decisions are taken it is also necessary to ensure that countries have the means to implement them,” he said, stressing on the need for financial assistance for developing countries.

Morocco has spared no efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The country has taken concrete steps to ensure 52 per cent of national energy supply from clean sources by 2030, the King said.

 

Political leadership needed

 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pointed out that multilateral solutions work best to address such problems, which countries couldn’t have solved on their own, and that the UN was the best forum to forge solutions.

He emphasised that political and moral leadership is the key in implementing the Paris Agreement pledges. “Global emissions must peak by 2020,” he said, adding that 150 million people live on land that could be submerged within this century, leading to massive waves of migration and instability, if climate change was not stopped.

French President Francis Hollande stressed that the Paris Agreement was “irreversible in law and in our minds.” He recalled how the Agreement had been adopted soon after the Paris terror attacks in 2015, under extremely trying national circumstances, and appealed to all the other countries at the summit to continue persevering towards its goals.

“Thirty-six of the 50 most climate affected countries are in sub-Saharan Africa,” Mr. Hollande pointed out, adding that during the previous COP, 10 billion Euros had been pledged towards renewable energy development in Africa. He appealed to other wealthy nations to initiate similar efforts to financially support transition to clean energy in developing countries.