MARRAKESH, Morocco (Reuters) - Fears that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming pushed almost 200 nations at climate talks in Morocco on Thursday to declare action an “urgent duty”.
Trump has called man-made global warming a hoax and has said he will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which seeks to wean the global economy off fossil fuels this century with a shift to renewable energies such as wind and solar power.
In a statement, the ministers at the meeting said momentum for cutting greenhouse gases was “irreversible” and reaffirmed their commitment to “full implementation” of the Paris accord.
“We call for the highest political commitment to combat climate change, as a matter of urgent priority,” they said in the Marrakesh Action Proclamation.
“Our climate is warming at an alarming and unprecedented rate and we have an urgent duty to respond,” it said. Delegates applauded, joined hands above their heads in standing ovation after the proclamation was read out.
World temperatures are set to hit the highest since records began in the 19th century this year, beating 2015, triggering a melting of ice sheets, damaging coral reefs and spurring heat waves.
In the document, rich nations reaffirmed a goal of mobilising $100 billion in climate finance, from both public and private sources, by 2020 to help developing countries.
Trump’s election has cast a shadow over the Paris deal, which was agreed after more than two decades of deadlock about how to tackle global warming and entered into force in record time, on Nov. 4.
Trump says that he will shift to boost the domestic U.S. coal, oil, gas and shale industries.
At the talks this week, French President Francois Hollande warned that inaction on climate change would be “disastrous for future generations and dangerous for peace”.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed hopes Trump might change his mind once in office.
The proclamation, a political statement of intent with no legal force, affirmed plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for raising world temperatures and causing more downpours, heat waves, and rising sea levels.
The Paris Agreement seeks to limit a rise in global average temperatures to “well below” 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial times, ideally 1.5C (2.7F) by slashing greenhouse gas emissions.
Many countries welcomed the announcement.
“Every country has a responsibility to do their part to protect the climate that sustains us all,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, the Maldives’ Environment Minister and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.
European Union climate action and energy commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete tweeted: “Another victory for the climate: Marrakech Action Proclamation shows world forging ahead with ambitious climate action.”
Environmental activists also welcomed the proclamation.
“In what feels like a divided and fragile world, it’s encouraging to see there is unison over one of our most existential threats,” Christian Aid’s Mohamed Adow said.
Reporting by Alister Doyle, Nina Chestney and Megan Rowling; Editing by Louise Ireland