Tuesday

23rd Jan 2018

UN's former climate chief 'not worried' about Trump

A former top climate official of the United Nations told EUobserver on Wednesday (14 December) she is “not worried” about climate-sceptic Donald Trump's election as president of the United States.

“I can't lie to you and say I am exuberant about this, but I am also not worried,” said Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the body which hosts international talks on climate change, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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Figueres played a key part in the negotiations leading to the signing of the first-ever global agreement on climate change last year in Paris.

During the election campaign, Trump said he would “cancel” the deal, although he recently noted he would keep an “open mind” towards fighting climate change.

Following his electoral win, the business tycoon announced he would appoint several known climate-sceptics and defenders of the fossil fuel industry to high positions.

But Figueres said not to worry.

“Because, first of all there are so many countries that will continue to work. That is exactly what we heard in Marrakesh,” she said, referring to the Paris follow-up summit in Morrocco, last month.

She noted that a group of 47 developing countries - “not even developed, developing countries!” - have committed to having 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources.

“The reactions that I am hearing is: we are getting to a point where we can no longer afford as a global community to either delay or to slow down. I'm hearing many, many voices that people are actually accelerating,” said Figueres.

Figueres spoke to EUobserver and three other journalists in the Berlaymont building of the European Commission, sitting next to Energy Union commissioner Maros Sefcovic.

She is involved in a project he is coordinating with former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, which brings together mayors from all over the world to work together on fighting climate change.

Figueres, who quit her post as UNFCCC chief in July this year, has become an informal ambassador for the project, called the Global Covenant of Mayors.

Both Sefcovic and Figueres pointed out the importance of city governments in reducing greenhouse gases - they are said to be responsible for 70 percent of all global warming gases.

And those cities, along with states, corporations and financial institutions “will continue” to reduce greenhouse gases, Figueres said.

“They are not doing this because they are goody-two-shoes, or because they want to save the planet, or any of those, you know, la-la arguments.

“They are doing it because they know it is good for their economy. And they know that we are irrevocably moving toward a decarbonised global economy, and if they want to continue to participate in that global economy, this is what they have to do,” said Figueres.

“The fact is that the United States will continue to work on climate change and will continue to pursue many of its climate change goals because the United states, like many other countries, doesn't work only through the White House or only through the federal government.”

Agenda

Climate change and EU cheerleading, This WEEK

The European Parliament will try this week to give the EU a good name, with votes and debates on issues where conventional wisdom says that citizens expect results.

EU and 195 countries adopt Paris climate accord

Deal cements new bottom-up approach which involves pledges by every UN state to reduce greenhouse emissions, as well as a review mechanism to jack up ambition every five years.

Commission and council dig in on GMO opt-outs

The European Commission and the EU's national governments pass each other the buck on who should move first on a heavily-criticised proposal on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food.

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