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Brave faces at climate talks despite Trump win
By Marlowe HOOD
Marrakesh, Morocco (AFP) Nov 12, 2016

Kerry tells Trump that Americans want climate action
Wellington (AFP) Nov 13, 2016 - US Secretary of State John Kerry made an impassioned plea Sunday for America to maintain action on global warming, despite the election of climate-change denier Donald Trump.

While US President-elect Trump has labelled climate change a hoax and threatened to pull out of the Paris climate deal, Kerry said most Americans wanted the problem addressed.

"We will wait to see how the next administration addresses this but I believe we're on the right track and this is a track that the American people are committed to," Kerry told reporters on a trip to New Zealand.

"The majority of the American people believe that climate change is in fact happening and want to see us address it."

He was hopeful Trump would not follow through with his strong campaign rhetoric about ditching Washington's climate policies.

"Everybody knows that there's sometimes a divide between a campaign and the governing and I think the next administration needs to define itself on that subject," he said.

Kerry was speaking after an "awe-inspiring" visit to Antarctica, where he took a helicopter ride to view the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

"That ice sheet alone, should it break up and melt, as it is showing signs of doing now, would add some 12 feet (3.7 metres) or more to the current sea level," he said.

Washington's top diplomat said scientists in the frozen continent showed him the work they were doing to assess the impact of climate change.

He said it reinforced his conviction that action was needed and he would take that message to UN climate talks in Morocco next week.

"Until January 20, when this administration is over, we intend to do everything possible to meet our responsibility to future generations to be able to address this threat to life itself on the planet," he said.

Kerry said he first became involved in the climate issue in the early 1990s and had seen scientific evidence of change grow to a level that was now overwhelming.

He cited Pacific island nations threatened by rising seas, more intense and damaging storms, as well as greater frequency of wildfires and flooding.

"The evidence is mounting, in ways that people in public life should not dare to avoid accepting as a mandate for action," he said.

The host of global climate talks insisted Saturday that Donald Trump's election has not cast a cloud over the negotiations tasked with translating the landmark Paris climate pact into reality.

Moroccan foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar put on a brave face as the talks hit the half-way point, saying they remained on track for the arrival next week of some 60 heads of state.

"No, the election of Donald Trump does not hover over this COP anymore," said Mezouar, using the acronym for the Conference of the Parties meeting in Marrakesh.

He noted that countries including China have reaffirmed their commitments to the 196-nation Paris Agreement, which was inked in December and entered into force last week, record time for an international treaty.

The tally of ratifications has hit 105, with new ones added almost daily, said Mezouar, the president of the forum.

Also on Saturday, Germany presented a plan to purge up to 95 percent of the CO2 from its economy by mid-century, a voluntary step other major carbon emitters have also pledged to take.

"The work is going very well," UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa told journalists, adding that technical committees would finish up in time for the arrival of presidents and ministers next Tuesday.

But the elephant in the room remained, despite efforts to ignore or banish it.

"The president-elect removed from his website the section concerning the Paris Agreement, which is a good sign," said the Moroccan minister.

A page posted on did briefly disappear, but apparently only for technical reasons.

The promise oft repeated during the campaign -- that has deeply shaken the UN talks -- is in fact still there, black-on-white.

"We're going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement," it reads, presented as part of Trump's 100-day action plan.

His administration will also "stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs," it says.

- 'We are waiting' -

The Obama administration promised $3 billion (2.8 million euros) to a special fund for poor nations already feeling the lash of climate-enhanced extreme weather, from superstorms to droughts to heatwaves.

So far, however, the US has only ponied up $500,000 (460,000).

A senior US official -- the first to comment publicly here since the election -- counselled a "wait-and-see" attitude.

"We should not just assume what is going to happen," said Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment.

"We have one president at a time. We are going to have to see how things develop," she added, echoing statements from many other delegates over the last three days.

Morocco's environment minister, meanwhile, expressed confidence that Trump would come around, pointing out that he has already reversed himself on other issues such as health care.

"I think that competition worldwide will push them to change their position," she told AFP, referring to the breakneck development of renewable energy around the world.

"Americans are the ones who went to the moon. They should also be the ones who create this revolution -- and it is a revolution.

"We heard the candidate. We have not yet heard the President. We are waiting," she added.

Under the Paris pact, rich countries have pledged at least $100 billion a year starting in 2020.

In an annex to the treaty, nations have also submitted voluntary pledges to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause dangerous global warming.

The agreement commits nations to collectively capping Earth's average temperature increase at under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

With 1.0C (1.8F) of warming to date, the world has already seen an uptick in deadly storms, droughts, heatwaves and flooding.

The 12-day talks run until November 18.

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Marrakesh, Morocco (AFP) Nov 10, 2016
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