Kerry tells climate conference that the U.S. will fight global warming — with Trump or without

Secretary of State John F. Kerry took the stage at United Nations climate talks in Morocco on Wednesday, seeking to reassure nervous negotiators that a groundbreaking agreement to fight global warming will survive with Donald Trump in the White House.

The Republican president-elect has called climate change a “hoax” and said he would “cancel” the United States’ participation in the accord reached in Paris last year.

But Kerry said, “No one should doubt the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the United States who know climate change is happening and who are determined to keep our commitments that were made in Paris.”

He noted that global investment in renewable energy hit an all-time high last year of nearly $350 billion, outpacing for the first time what went into coal, oil and other fossil fuels.

“Like many of you, I’ve seen this transformation take hold in my own country,” Kerry said. “That’s why I’m confident about the future, regardless of what policy might be chosen, because of the marketplace.”

The election of a U.S. president who questions whether global warming is real has caused alarm among environmental activists, scientists and the nearly 200 governments around the world that have made common cause with one another in the fight against climate change. 

The Obama administration played a critical role in brokering last year’s deal in Paris, forging alliances with China, India and other major producers of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions to help drive decades of contentious negotiations to a successful conclusion.

The accord, which entered into force just days before the U.N. conference began in the Moroccan city of Marrakech last week, aims to keep the increase in world temperatures this century to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.  Those are the thresholds at which scientists believe many of the worst effects of climate change can be averted.

But the agreement contains no legally binding emissions targets, leaving it to individual countries to set their own goals and strategies. Scientists say there is no time to lose: The emissions reductions currently on the table won’t be sufficient to hold temperatures to the levels outlined in the deal.

Kerry used his highly anticipated speech to defend the Obama administration’s environmental policies, making a thinly veiled pitch to his as-yet-unnamed successor to continue the fight against climate change.

“At some point, even the strongest skeptic has to acknowledge that something disturbing is happening,” Kerry said. “We have seen record-breaking droughts everywhere, from India to Brazil to the West Coast of the United States. Storms that used to happen once every 500 years are becoming relatively normal.”

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