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US implored to stick to Paris Agreement despite Trump opposition

The US cannot renege on its commitment to lower carbon emissions as agreed upon in the Paris Agreement, Morocco’s foreign minister warns on the eve of UN talks in Marrakesh.

There is “no turning back” from the global accord to combat climate change, he said, amid fears that Donald Trump will try to pull out if he wins the US presidency.

The treaty commits countries to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero this century in order to prevent average temperatures from rising beyond 2°C, compared with pre-industrial times.

The number of countries that have ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement to slow global warming by shifting from fossil fuels has risen to 100 nations in recent days, including OPEC’s top oil producer Saudi Arabia, the United Nations said.

But the US election is casting a shadow over the 11-day meeting of officials from almost 200 nations in Marrakesh, which is starting today, to work on ways to implement pledges made in Paris to adopt cleaner energies such as wind and solar power.

Trump wants to ditch the Paris Agreement, disputing mainstream scientific findings that droughts, floods and rising sea levels are linked to human activities. By contrast, his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton is a supporter.

“There is no possible turning back in the negotiation on what was agreed in Paris,” said Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar (pictured above), who will preside at the talks.

“We can only advance,” he said, without naming Trump.

He said the agreement had strong momentum after formally entering into force on Friday with backing from major emitters led by China, the US and India.

Asked about Trump’s threats, UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa noted that any state wanting to pull out would have to follow formal legal procedures, which would last four years.

“The agreement has entered into force and we are all obliged to deliver on those commitments,” she said. Still, the agreement lets all nations define their own commitments for fighting climate change and has no sanctions for non-compliance.

With the UN accord legally in place, Trump may find it easier if he wins to oppose US President Barack Obama’s plans to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2025 from 2005 levels.

Trump says the agreement would undermine US jobs, such as in the coal industry.

The Morocco meeting is due to start writing a detailed ‘rule book’ for the Paris Agreement, likely to take two years, and find ways to act such as raising finance to help developing nations cut their rising emissions.

The Paris Agreement entered into force on Friday after it passed a twin threshold last month of support from 55 nations representing 55 percent of global emissions.

Last week, the UN’s Environment Programme released a report showing that greenhouse gas emissions will exceed that which is needed to keep global warming in check by 2030 under countries’ current pledges for emission cuts. 

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