Underscoring the "climate pariah" that the United States is expected to become under a President-elect Donald Trump, world leaders concluded the United Nations climate talks on Friday by re-committing to the goals of the Paris accord and vowing to take swift action to reduce global emissions.
"We call for the highest political commitment to combat climate change, as a matter of urgent priority," reads the Marrakech Action Proclamation (pdf), which was signed by 196 countries.
"Indeed, this year, we have seen extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide," it states. "This momentum is irreversible—it is being driven not only by governments, but by science, business, and global action of all types at all levels."
The declaration calls for "strong solidarity with those countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change," as well as efforts to "eradicate poverty" and "ensure food security" as global warming takes its toll on agriculture, particularly in the Global South. The document further calls on "all non-state actors to join us for immediate and ambitious action and mobilization" to reduce emissions and transition to sustainable development and energy sources.
Additionally, 47 of the world's most climate vulnerable nations pledged to "meet 100 percent domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible."
Holding up the pledge from the Climate Vulnerable Forum as "demonstrat[ing] what government leadership needs to look like," Payal Parekh, 350.org global program director, said: "The world is finally seeing the urgency for collective climate action."
And there is good reason for the urgency. Delegates wrapped up the conference in Marrakech amid another warning about the "climate emergency" upon us, as record-breaking temperatures continued for the third year in a row.
Further, the widespread show of solidarity occurred in the face of the recent election of Trump, who denies the reality of man-made global warming and has pledged to pull the United States from the Paris agreement.
Benjamin Schreiber of Friends of the Earth U.S. said at the conclusion of the talks, "Climate change is not going to wait for U.S. action and the rest of the world is clear it is moving forward. Trump's election must unify the world in treating the U.S. as a climate pariah, and respond to his Presidency by redoubling ambition."
And it seems it has. In an op-ed this week, environmental representatives from Ethiopia, the Philippines, and Costa Rica wrote that "the recent outcome of the U.S. elections cannot stop those of us dedicated to battling climate change."
"No country has said it will walk away from global action," said Ethiopia's minister of environment and climate Gemedo Dalle; Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Philippine senate's Permanent Committee on Climate Change; and Edgar Gutierrez, Costa Rican minister of Environment and Energy.
"To the contrary," they continued,
countries including China, members of the European Union, Japan and Saudi Arabia have all reconfirmed their commitment to implement the Paris Agreement. Others, such as Australia, Pakistan and Italy, have even joined the agreement in the days since the U.S. elections. French President Francois Hollande and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have called on President-elect Trump to drop his campaign pledge to cancel the Paris Agreement; Ban called the Paris Agreement "unstoppable."
Together they send a resounding message: The countries of the world will forge on. Those that do will be better off by skipping all the downsides of a 19th century development model characterized by the burning of fossil fuels to achieve economic growth, while cashing in on more jobs, more growth and a higher quality of work and life.
"While the U.S. election could have derailed the negotiations, what's happened in Marrakech has given hope that global action on climate change will not be deterred by isolated politicians," said David Turnbull, campaigns director for Oil Change International.
However, Turnbull and others noted that, given that studies have shown that the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC will be far surpassed under nations' current reduction targets, the negotiations still "failed to meet the urgency of the climate crisis."
But, Turnbull added, "countries and social movements came together to keep pushing forward at a time when resolve is essential."
"The lessons of Marrakech are clear," he continued. "Don't look to bureaucrats or climate-denying Presidents to take the lead on global climate action. Look to the people in the streets and in communities around the world. These are the people-powered movements resisting fossil fuels and building a renewable energy future, and this is the path to victory."