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Make Climate Change the ‘Highest Political Commitment,’ Nations Say

  • VOA News

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa, second left, Morocco's Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, center, and Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador Bianca Jagger, second right, celebrate after the proclamation of Marrakech, at the U.N. World Climate Chan

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa, second left, Morocco's Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, center, and Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador Bianca Jagger, second right, celebrate after the proclamation of Marrakech, at the U.N. World Climate Chan

Nearly 200 nations are calling on the world to make the "highest political commitment" to fight climate change after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump threatened to toss out the Paris Agreement.

"Our climate is warming at an alarming and unprecedented rate and we have an urgent duty to respond," delegates meeting at a U.N. climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco, said Thursday.

They called the move away from carbon-emitting fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources "irreversible," according to a statement. "It is being driven not only by governments, but by science, business, and global action of all types at all levels."

The delegates stood up and cheered, holding their hands above their heads in a gesture of victory after the statement was read.

Representatives of different indigenous groups from various countries protest during the UN Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov. 17, 2016.

Representatives of different indigenous groups from various countries protest during the UN Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov. 17, 2016.

The Marrakech talks were aimed at setting out a timetable for carrying out the Paris climate change agreement. The deal signed in April aims to cut carbon emissions and limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius over the Industrial Revolution levels of the 19th century.

But success of the deal hinges on the cooperation and contributions of some of the world's biggest polluters and consumers of fossil fuels, including the United States.

Trump's longtime insistence that global warming is a Chinese-created hoax has many world leaders worried he will carry out his threat to pull out of the Paris deal.

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive," Trump first tweeted in 2012.

He has also championed more gas and oil exploration, and promised to revive the moribund U.S. coal industry.

Nether Trump nor anyone from his transition team have talked publicly about global warming since his election.

But China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said in Morocco that former U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush began talks on global warming more than 30 years ago and China was not part of those early meetings. He said it is impossible the Chinese invented the concept.

FILE - Liu Zhenmin, vice foreign minister of China, visits the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, March 11, 2015.

FILE - Liu Zhenmin, vice foreign minister of China, visits the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, March 11, 2015.

"If you look at the history of climate change negotiations, actually it was initiated by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] with the support of the Republicans during the Reagan and senior Bush administration during the late 1980s," Liu said.

Between 2012 and 2014, Trump tweeted several more times with some variation on the idea that climate change is a hoax. He often said cold weather as a reason why he doesn't believe in the concept.

"The weather has been so cold for so long that the global warming HOAXSTERS were forced to change the name to climate change to keep $ flow!" Trump tweeted in 2014.

FILE - Then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump answers a question during the third presidential debate in Las Vegas, Oct. 19, 2016. Despite his own tweets, Trump has denied having made claims that climate change was a hoax invented by China.

FILE - Then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump answers a question during the third presidential debate in Las Vegas, Oct. 19, 2016. Despite his own tweets, Trump has denied having made claims that climate change was a hoax invented by China.

Trump has since denied making the claims.

During the first presidential debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton, Clinton said: "Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it's real. I think science is real."

To which Trump responded, "I did not, I did not. I do not say that."

Meanwhile, U.S. government experts said Thursday that 2016 is on track to be the hottest year in recorded history, with a global temperature so far nearly 1 degree Celsius above normal.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said this October was the third-hottest October on record.

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