Opinion / Fu Jing

Trump should honor US' climate promise

By Fu Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2016-11-22 08:44

Trump should honor US' climate promise

US President-elect Donald Trump and Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus (R) address supporters during his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, US on November 9, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Donald Trump's election as the president of the United States has sparked a debate over climate change amid the just-concluded United Nations climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco, mainly because given his reputation as a climate change denier, he could put the Paris Agreement in jeopardy.

Many see this as an "window of opportunity" for the European Union and China to move closer in the global fight against climate change, while others emphasize the need to strengthen global climate governance. And the media have highlighted what Trump tweeted in 2012: "The concept of global warming hoax was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive."

However, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, corrected Trump's view at the Marrakech climate conference, by emphasizing that climate change is not a hoax invented by China, because the UN climate negotiations were initially driven with the support of Trump's fellow Republicans during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush at a time when Beijing was learning how to integrate into the world economy. It was only later that China became a major player in the global fight against climate change.

At the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, China was wrongly blamed by the West for "wrecking" the talks. The reality is that China, as the representative of developing world, could not accept the tough terms imposed by the developed economies that had not even tried to honor their obligation to help the poorer countries to adapt to and overcome the consequences of climate change which they were historically responsible for.

Generally speaking, the Paris Agreement will be implemented for years beyond 2020 no matter what the incoming Trump administration decides to do. After all, the Kyoto Protocol, especially its second commitment, was implemented despite the US' withdrawal from it in 2001. Still, the incoming Trump administration should consider the fight against climate change as a global norm, because it has become an integral part of scientific research, education, business, politics and ordinary people's lives. Without fighting climate change, we cannot make our world a better place for humankind. Trump, as president-elect, cannot afford to dent the US' status as a global leader by not making efforts to resolve a non-partisan global issue. If Trump is serious about reviving the US economy, he has to first realize that economies today are highly interdependent, and fighting climate change is an important part of the global agenda. He has no choice but to attract private and foreign investments, and green technologies if he wants to expedite the growth of the US economy. And green technologies are integral to the global fight against climate change.

To implement the Paris Agreement, China and the EU have to deepen their cooperation on the use of research in green technology. But before that, the two sides have to engage Trump and his administration in talks to convince them that only by meeting the promises it has made in the Paris Agreement can the US achieve true greatness. This is a chance for the US to show the rest of the world that it can act as a responsible power.

Despite Trump's campaign rhetoric, we hope he will change his mind and support the Paris Agreement after he enters the White House. And even if he keeps denying climate change, he will have three years to ponder before pulling out of the Paris Agreement, because the agreement stipulates that the parties to it can apply to withdraw only after Nov 4, 2019.Hopefully by then Trump will accept the reality that is climate change, and agree to fight it.

Let us hope that after pulling off a surprise win over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Trump will surprise us again by becoming a part of the fight against climate change.

The author is deputy chief of China Daily European Bureau.

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