SPECIAL COP22 – First reactions to Trump election victory

COP22 climate negotiators and delegates in Marrakech woke up with a bitter news on Wednesday (Nov. 9). Many of them probably did not sleep much (but this is usual habit at climate talks) watching the count of the US presidential vote, and mostly hoping for the opposite result. Donald Trump won the election and will take office as 45th president of the United States on January 20 next year.

Trump’s speech after victory (video by AP, on The New York Times):

Reactions from Abroad (video by Robin Lindsay and Neeti Upadhye, on The News York Times):

Trump victory, with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, is poised to drastically change US foreign and domestic policy on several issues. On the climate change side, Trump has repeatedly promised to dismantle most of the related legislation and initiatives put forth by the Obama administration, such as the Clean Power Plan (currently frozen by the US Supreme Court until legal challenges to the regulation are completed). He also said he would “cancel” the Paris Agreement.

Some climate diplomats recently said they are confident that the deal can survive the potential challenges and that the entry into force cannot be reversed, Reuters reports.

Despite the disappointment (and a quite hidden concern for the unpredictability of Trump actual intentions), a similar tone characterizes the first official reactions at COP22:

“I’m sure that the rest of the world will continue to work on it,” Moroccan chief negotiator Aziz Mekouar told AP.

At a press conference held by US Climate Action Network (USCAN) in Marrakesh on Wednesday morning, NGOs and climate activists remarked that “the election results will impact on the tone of negotiations, but the task ahead remains the same”.

As US has already embrace RES transition and clean tech investments, if Trump follows through with his announcements to cut back on Obama’s plans, it can slow down but not stop the decarbonisation of US economy, they said. Some suggested that Trump may act as a more responsible President then the candidate’s stance he took during the campaign, taking into account the political consequences that backsliding on the Paris deal and bilateral agreements (such as the strong climate cooperation built with China in the past years) would entail.

According to Reuters, some delegates expressed concern that Trump could cause other nations to reconsider their position on climate commitments. “We will have a lot more hurdles,” said Ian Fry, head of the delegation of the Pacific island state Tuvalu, adding Trump’s victory could have a “domino effect on other nations”.

On markets, Trump’s victory drove down renewable energy stocks, but it is not seen as a long-standing effect..  “Renewables have already overtaken coal as a global power source, electric vehicles are the growth segment of the auto industry and jobs are being created in clean energy sectors faster than any other,” Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, a European forum for 128 investors with more than 13 trillion of assets, told Reuters, stressing that changes towards greener growth are “irreversible”.


(Image: Donald Trump holds up a magazine cover featuring himself while at a campaign stop at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Photo credit: Matt A.J. – Matt Johnson/Flickr)