In response to the closing of the UN climate change summit in Marrakech, Morocco, Professor Joanna Haigh, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London has said that the conference was taking place whilst ‘increasingly clear’ signals of climate change came from the natural world.
“Alongside the highs and lows of the political debate on climate change this year, from the entry into force of the Paris Agreement to the election of Donald Trump, there have been increasingly clear signals of climate change coming from the natural world,” she said.
“We have seen 16 successive months of temperature records being broken, and 2016 is set to be the warmest year on record.
Other signs of ongoing climate change are also increasingly strong; this week the Arctic, for example, has been around 20C warmer than normal for this time of year, with sea ice continuing an ongoing downward trend.
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“It is a clear reminder if one were needed that the climate system is steadily responding to carbon emissions. If governments want to fulfil the pledges they made in the Paris Agreement just a year ago, the science shows they need to accelerate the pace of emission cuts, and do so quickly.”
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said that, although the election of Donald Trump had overshadowed the talks, real-world imperatives were driving global action on tackling climate change.
“Inevitably, these UN climate talks have been somewhat overshadowed by the election of Donald Trump, who’s pledged to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement,” he said.
“But for all the heat, there’s little sense of a Trump Effect perturbing the negotiations here. No other country has voiced doubts about the agreement. Twenty-two nations have announced plans to bring their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, 48 of the poorest have committed to using 100% renewable energy by the same date, and many, notably China, have pledged to continue leading a transition to a low-carbon energy system.
“There’s a sense that real-world imperatives are driving the process now – both the increasingly evident risks posed by climate change and the economic opportunities presented by the low-carbon transition. And if that’s true outside the United States, it’s going to be visible to many inside as well. So while it hasn’t exactly been a question of ‘Donald Who?’, it certainly feels pretty much like ‘Donald So What?’”