Ex-UN climate chief warns Trump’s victory in presidential polls may lead to climate setback

Former UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa, in what can be seen as a cautionary statement, highlighted the potential jeopardy of Donald Trump’s victory in the upcoming US presidential election on global climate ambitions, including the Paris Agreement. 

Espinosa believe that Trump could withdraw the Paris Agreement, an important milestone in global efforts to address climate change which has drawn a collective commitment by nearly every country in the world to combat this pressing issue.

“I worry [about the potential election of Trump] because it would have very strong consequences, if we see a regression regarding climate policies in the US,” Espinosa said while also adding, “We are not yet aligned to 1.5C. That’s the reality. So if we see a situation where we would see regression on those efforts, then [the likelihood of staying within 1.5C] is very limited. It would certainly be a much bigger risk.”

Notably, addressing the climate issues is crucial however it needs to have an inclusive and collaborative approach.

“We could see a slowdown, an even bigger slowdown [in action to reduce emissions], which would unfortunately probably take us to an even more terrible scenario, unless we see strong leadership coming from other places, [such as] Europe.”

Espinosa reportedly highlighted the critical role the United States play in addressing climate change and that the country continues to be an influential player in climate policy.

“What happens in the US has a very big impact in so many places around the world,” she reportedly said.

Espinosa stated, “When President Trump announced that they would withdraw from the Paris agreement, there was a certain fear that others would follow, and that there would be a setback in the pace of the climate change process.”

“Not only did that not happen but some countries that had not yet adhered to the Paris agreement did so,” she added while expressing hope that others countries are not expected to go back to their pledged climate goals.   

“As of now, I don’t see countries really going back. I think that the process will continue,” she said pointed out at a potential scenario where Trump take Washington out of 1.5 degrees comittment.  

Regarding climate finance, Espinosa highlighted challenges faced by the Biden administration in securing commitments amidst political obstacles.

“We are seeing a lack of leadership, including in the big countries that can make contributions,” she said.

“[In the US] I think there is a willingness but there are also limitations. In the EU there has been a long period where they have been discussing the internal frameworks [for climate finance]. At the same time, we have been seeing a reduction of funds going in general to the global south, and very little is going to climate change. It’s really a question of giving it priority.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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