Secretary of State John Kerry says market forces will drive U.S. to meet Paris goals


By Susan Phillips

November 16, 2016

Also published by State Impact/NPR

Speaking at the United Nations climate change conference in Morocco on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry struck a defiantly optimistic tone about the continued U.S. role in reducing global emissions. He addressed a crowd that had come to Marrakech elated by the success of last year’s Paris Agreement, but who are now worried that president-elect Donald Trump will follow through on his plan to scrap U.S. commitments on both emission reductions and climate finance.

Trump could choose several ways to pull the U.S. out of the climate deal, which puts into question what other countries will do. The U.S. accounts for about 20 percent of global carbon emissions, and had committed about $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. So far here in Marrakech, no country has said it would withdraw from the pact if the U.S. cancels its involvement, including China.  Kerry was adamant that the emissions reductions agreed to in the accord cannot be reversed.

“I can tell you with confidence that the United States is right now today on our way to meeting all the international targets that were set and because of the market decisions that are being made, I do not believe that that can or will be reversed,” he said to wide applause.

Kerry said American wind generation has tripled since Obama took office in 2008, and solar power has increased “30 times over.” Worldwide investments in renewables outpaced new investments in fossil fuels for the first time this year. And today more than 300 companies, including General Mills NRG Energy and Intel signed a letter calling on Donald Trump to honor the Paris Agreement. But Trump’s election gave a boost to fossil fuel stocks, as renewables dropped, according to Reuters.

Kerry worked to rally the climate troops with his speech, assuring the assembled that the majority of Americans support the Paris Agreement. Without naming Trump directly, Kerry called on world leaders to consult military brass, economists and scientists about climate change.

“No one has a right to make decisions that affect billions of people based solely [on] ideology, or without proper input,” he said. Kerry said failing to fight climate change would be a “moral failure, a betrayal of devastating consequences.”

Later on in the afternoon, Marc Morano, an activist who doesn’t believe the science of climate change, shredded a copy of the Paris Agreement outside the press tent while wearing a red Trump hat. ”The delegates here seem to be in deep denial about President-elect Trump’s policies,” he said.