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The implications of Donald Trump being elected US president on climate change

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US stand at COP22. PHOTO/Courtesy Jonathan Odongo

The 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has officially kicked off at Marrakech, Morocco.

The climate change conference that will run until 18th of November comes one year after signing of the famous Paris Agreement during the 21st COP held in December 2015 in Paris, France and three days after coming to effect of the Agreement.

However, the conference opens in the middle of the USA general election that has seen the Republican candidate Donald Trump threatening to pull USA out of the agreement if he wins.

The implications of Donald Trump being elected US president dominated the opening talks, presentations and discussions. Although Trump, who believes that climate change is a hoax, cannot immediately upset the UN climate process, his election may deal a serious blow to the agenda being laid out in Morocco.

“Trump’s win may complicate implementation of the agreement especially since US was very instrumental in seeing the agreement through,” a panelist said during a side event involving developing countries.

“Though the agreement is legally binding up to three years after which the countries may withdraw, we are not sure what will happen under Trump regime,” a participant added.

Nonetheless, most of the statements are ladened with words of hope for the successful implementation of the Paris agreement.

In his welcoming statement, Salaheddine Mezouar – Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the newly elected President of COP22 – said that Morocco’s willingness to host the climate change conference “emphasizes Africa’s desire to take its destiny in hand, to reduce its vulnerability and strengthen its resilience.”

In her opening remarks, Patricia Espinoza, the new Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change emphasized on 5 key points that need focus: climate finance; integration of Nationally Determined Contributions into national policies and investment plans; prioritization of support for adaptation; progress on the loss and damage mechanism; addressing capacity building needs of developing countries and full engagement of non-party stakeholders from the North and South.

“Achieving the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement is not a given. We have embarked on an effort to change the course of two centuries of carbon – intense development.

The peaking of global emissions is urgent, as is attaining far more climate – resilient societies.

Marrakech is our moment to take forward climate action at the international and national levels as a central pillar of the successful realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.” She said.

The aim of COP 22, christened ‘action COP’, is to operationalize or provide a roadmap for implementation of Paris Agreement that has been heralded as a key step towards a sustainable, carbon free and climate resilient future.

COP 22 establishes 2018 as an important milestone in the new chapter and stakeholders are mobilizing to ensure COP22 reinforces the 2018 milestone.

The Kenyan delegation is expected to table Kenya’s demands in line with the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted prior to COP 21.

According to the INDC, to abate greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and ensure enhanced resilience to climate change towards the attainment of Vision 2030, Kenya needs international support in the form of finance, investment, technology and capacity building.

The conference that has attracted about 20,000 participants from across the world will determine the direction of the fight against climate change through the UN climate negotiation process.

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Written by Jonathan Odongo

Executive Director, Kenya Environmental Education Network

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