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Join battle on climate change, Fiji tells Trump

Sunday November 20 2016

French President Francois Hollande speaks at a press conference during the COP22 Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh on November 16, 2016. PHOTO | STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN | AFP

French President Francois Hollande speaks at a press conference during the COP22 Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh on November 16, 2016. PHOTO | STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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MARRAKECH

The leader of Fiji, whose nation is being resculpted by rising seas, has pleaded with Donald Trump to join the fight against global warming.

Invoking World War II, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama urged the US to play its part in rescuing his Pacific island state — and the world at large — from climate change.
“You came to save us. It is time for you to help to save us now,” he said before the 196-nation assembly.

Bainimarama invited the US president-elect — who has repeatedly called global warming a hoax — to visit Fiji to see for himself the devastating impact of climate-fuelled cyclones and storm surges.

Moroccan foreign minister and conference president Salaheddine Mezouar made a similar plea on the final day of the high-level UN talks tasked with implementing the landmark Paris Agreement.

“We count on your pragmatism and spirit of commitment,” he said when asked if he had a message for Trump.

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The forum was stunned to see an avowed climate change denier capture the White House, and the shadow of his victory hung over the 12-day meeting, which gavelled through a work plan night for implementing the Paris pact.

DERAIL MASSIVE MOMENTUM

Trump’s “100-day action plan” includes scrapping the hard-won deal, which entered into force early this month, in record time for a treaty.

Ministers and diplomats, however, insist a Trump administration cannot derail the massive momentum of the global transition to a low-carbon economy, already well underway.

“Not country has said that if Trump pulls the US out of the Paris Agreement it will follow him,” said Alden Meyer, an analyst at the Washington-based Union of Climate Scientists.

The BASIC group of Brazil, South Africa, India and China said in a statement it would continue and strengthen its own actions, while stressing “there can be no backtracking on commitments from developed countries and no attempt to renegotiate the terms of the agreement reached in Paris”.

If Trump acts on his promises, the consequences could be severe.

“The chances of the rest of the world contributing the emissions reductions commitments that the US is required to undertake, or covering the shortfall in climate finance are slim. That is scary,” said analyst Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid.

Highlighting the stakes, US Government scientists said this week that the first 10 months of the year were the hottest in modern times — and 2016 would likely surpass 2015 as the warmest year on record.

GLOBAL WARMING

The Paris pact seeks to hold nations to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius.

Voluntary national pledges to slash CO2 emissions, a by-product of burning fossil fuels, falls dangerously short of that goal.

On current trends, average global temperatures are set to top 3 degrees Celsius by the century’s end, a recipe for massive human misery, scientists say.

A key aim of the Marrakech talks was to lay the groundwork for ramping up — country-by-country — the pace of global transition from dirty to clean energy.

The next “political moment” when countries will be under pressure to increase their carbon-cutting ambition is the UN summit in 2018, to be held in Poland, it was announced.

The other key objective was to rally hundreds of billions of dollars to poor countries hit first and hardest by climate impact, despite having made a negligible contribution to the problem.

“The issue of finance is unfinished business from Paris,” said Tracy Carty, an expert from Oxfam.

Rich nations unveiled this month a roadmap projecting that financing from public and private sources was on track to meet a pledge of at least $100 billion a year from 2020.

But recipients contest the figures, saying climate-specific aid is only half to a quarter of the amount claimed. Of that, only a sliver is for adapting to climate impact — drought, heat waves, flooding — already underway, a high priority for the poorest regions, according to Oxfam.