The election of climate change skeptic Donald Trump as president is likely to end the U.S. leadership role in the international fight against global warming and may lead to the emergence of a new and unlikely champion: China.
China worked closely with the administration of outgoing President Barack Obama to build momentum ahead of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The partnership of the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters helped get nearly 200 countries to support the pact at the historic meet in France’s capital.
By contrast, Trump has called global warming a hoax created by China to give the country an economic advantage, and said he plans to remove the United States from the historic climate agreement, as well as reverse many of Obama’s measures to combat climate change.
He has appointed noted climate change skeptic Myron Ebell to help lead transition planning for the Environmental Protection Agency, which has crafted the administration’s major environmental regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and efficiency standards for cars and trucks.
Beijing is poised to cash in on the goodwill it could earn by taking on leadership in dealing with what for many other governments is one of the most urgent issues on their agenda.
“Proactively taking action against climate change will improve China’s international image and allow it to occupy the moral high ground,” Zou Ji, deputy director of the National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and a senior Chinese climate talks negotiator, told Reuters.
Zou said that if Trump abandons efforts to implement the Paris agreement, “China’s influence and voice are likely to increase in global climate governance, which will then spill over into other areas of global governance and increase China’s global standing, power and leadership.”
Chen Zhihua, a representative of the Chinese delegation and official in the climate change division of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s economic planning agency, said Chinese and other countries’ efforts will not change if the United States withdraws from the agreement.
“Action by the international community will not stop because of the new government of the United States. We still have confidence the international community will join hands and continue our efforts on climate change,” he told reporters at the 200-nation U.N. meeting being held in Marrakesh to start fleshing out the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
China will soon trump America: The country is now the global leader in climate change reform - Salon.com