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US will honour its pledges, Kerry tells climate summit

By Mark Oloo in Marrakech, Morocco | Nov 17th 2016 | 3 min read
By Mark Oloo in Marrakech, Morocco | November 17th 2016

US Secretary of State John Kerry has calmed fears that his country could pull out of the ongoing UN-led negotiations to fight global warming. 

Kerry warned that failure by countries to honour their commitments to combat climate change will be "the greatest abdication of responsibility of all time". 

He said US will remain steadfast in honouring its international obligations.  

Speaking at the climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco, the US official said majority US citizens acknowledged global warming and want their government to honour pledges it made under the Paris agreement brokered last year. 

Under the historic Paris agreement which came into force early this month, a record 200 countries agreed to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels. It came into force this month and its implementation will require cuts in use of fossil fuels. The deal has already been ratified by 109 countries. 

In a thinly veiled attack on President-elect Donal Trump yesterday, Kerry said: "While I can't stand here and speculate about what policies our president-elect will pursue, I will tell you this:  In the time I have spent in public life, one of the things I have learned is that some issues look a little bit different when you're in office compared to when you're on the campaign trail." 

Mr Trump, who takes oath of office in January next year, is on record saying climate change as a hoax and that he will pull the US out of subsequent climate negotiations. 

Kerry to the conference that government leaders must do proper due diligence to find out the cost of inaction, adding: "But we are not on a preordained path to disaster. This is a test of willpower, not capacity. It requires holding ourselves accountable to science, not politics".  

He added: "The essence is about common but differentiated responsibility. It leaves no country to fight climate change alone. We should marshal an army of tools to mobilise investments to fight climate change." 

Climate change, he said, was real and that skeptics should know "this is a turning point and time is not on our side because the world now faces extreme consequences". 

Said he: "Climate change shouldn't be a partisan issue. It isn't a partisan issue for our military leaders at the Pentagon who call climate change a threat multiplier. It isn't a partisan issue for those military leaders… It isn't a partisan issue for our intelligence community, who just this year released a report on implications of climate change for US national security: threats to the stability of fragile nations, heightened social and political tensions, rising food prices, increased risks to human health." 

The UN-driven global climate change talks aim at preventing global average temperature rise and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The talks have suffered over the years due to failure by parties to reach a consensus on the interest on rich nations against demands by developing countries.

But Secretary of State Kerry sounded optimistic saying the talks are about human survival and governments must redirect resources to tackle global warming.  

"2016 will be the warmest year so far. Storms are becoming relevantly normal with millions of people displaced annually. Commitment to green energy economy requires countries to embrace a high degree of global accountability. Investing in green energy simply makes good economic sense," Kerry said yesterday.  

More than 40 heads of state, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, are attending the event and taking part in high level discussions on implementation of the Paris agreement.  

On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon urged Mr Trump will make the right decision. He said: "I hope he will understand the seriousness and urgency of addressing climate change. 

Chairman of the Least Developed Countries Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu also warned Mr Trump against sabotaging the Paris deal, saying: "I don't see why Mr Trump should work to hinder this agreement. But even if it becomes true, no party should be allowed to obstruct the political goodwill we have seen since Paris." 

It is feared a decision by Mr Trump to force the US out of the Paris deal could weaken efforts by his country, a top polluter, to reduce emissions. 

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