Two scientists who participated in a recent global climate-change meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, come across in a new Yale Climate Connections video as hopeful, bordering on optimistic, about continued international efforts to address the problem. (See related posts here, here, and here.)
Glaciologist Jason Box, of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, and Cara Augustenborg, an environmental scientist with University College in Dublin, point to a spirit of resolution and perseverance in Marrakech in the days immediately following the U.S. election of Donald J. Trump.
“I thought before the election that, if Trump wins, we’ll all just go home,” Augustenborg told a meeting at Trinity College in Dublin on November 15, a week after Trump’s election. “But I was really surprised that the attitude in Marrakech was really quite positive. Negotiating team members and civil society representatives took the approach of: ‘Look, this is going to make it harder for the U.S., definitely, but it’s only one country out of 196, and the rest of us are still on track, we’re still going to act.’”
“Everyone’s got more resolve to make the Paris agreement a success,” Box said in a November 16 Skype interview with independent videographer Peter Sinclair. “That’s what everyone’s talking about.”
He said “the ‘T’ word” was not a principal focus of international participants. “This disruption, optimistically, will stir things up,” he said in the monthly “This is not cool” video.
China with ‘new role’ … ‘a big winner’?
Augustenborg pointed to China as a possible “big winner” if the Trump administration pulls back on climate: “For China, this is really seen as an opportunity. They said, ‘Hey, the U.S. has always been leading this, but we want to lead.’”
That view appeared to be reinforced in reporting by New York Times reporter Coral Davenport. She quoted Liu Zhenmin, China’s lead negotiator in Marrakech and China’s deputy minister of foreign affairs. Liu said China rejects a 2012 Trump assertion that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
“Whatever position the U.S. puts forth, China will continue to support the Paris agreement,” Davenport reports Liu as saying in Marrakech.
“They seem pretty upbeat about the role they play,” Box says of China. “They’ve become the largest producers of solar …. They’re taking it seriously, and there doesn’t seem to be so [many] obstacles in the way for them.”
“The attitude was very much, ‘We’re going to keep going, and if the U.S. doesn’t act, they’re just going to be left behind technologically, and that’s their loss,” Augustenborg said.
“Clean energy just makes good economic sense,” Box said. “It really doesn’t make economic sense to not participate in the clean energy revolution.” He pointed to what he sees as a big role for free-market initiatives in that revolution.
“I’m getting a more positive feeling from being at this meeting than I was expecting,” said Box, who from 2002 to 2012 was a scholaar at Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Research Center.