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James Hansen at COP23
Dr James Hansen at COP23 Credit: Jocelyn Timperley/Carbon Brief
15 November 2017 13:23

COP23 video: Does Donald Trump make limiting global warming to 1.5C impossible?

Multiple Authors

COP23 BonnCOP23 video: Does Donald Trump make limiting global warming to 1.5C impossible?

Carbon Brief has been talking to a range of people attending COP23, the latest annual round of United Nations climate negotiations being held this year in Bonn, Germany.

The presidency of Donald Trump in the US has been a major talking point at COP23, given that he said in July that he intends to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change if he cannot negotiate better terms for his country.

One of the key aims of the Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to “well below” 2C. The deal added that, ideally, warming since the pre-industrial era should not breach 1.5C.

Given that the US is one of the world’s leading emitters of greenhouse gases, Carbon Brief asked delegates at COP23 whether they think Trump’s presidency means the 1.5C goal is now impossible.

The video above contains the thoughts of…

Dr James Hansen, the former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and now an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute: “No…I’m hoping it’s a relatively short-term effect that he has…He’s not going to be able to restore the coal industry.” (0:04-1:27)

Sônia Guajajara, the national coordinator of Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples (APIB): “It makes things really difficult…We see this as an obstruction [to 1.5C] and as a setback.” (1:28-2:02)

Dr Bill Hare, climate scientist and CEO of Climate Analytics: “No, definitely not…The question is how long does US inaction go on for…But if Trump manages to get a diplomatic profile going on carbon-intensive development that could become a problem globally.” (2:05-2:58)

Rachel Cleetus, lead economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ climate and energy programme: “The Trump term is only four years and there’s so much they cannot do. They cannot buck market trends in the US which are favouring renewable energy deployment and they can’t change the fact that many states, businesses and cities are fully committed to [Paris].” (3:00-4:03)

Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of environment and climate change: “I really think the world has come together and the markets have moved, financing is flowing…so I think [1.5C] is well within our reach, but we’re going to have to work really hard.” (4:04-5:15)

Bill Peduto, mayor of Pittsburgh: “I can tell you that American cities are committed to not only being able to meet the Paris Agreement, but to exceed it.” (5:18-5:39)

Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and UN special representative: “No, I don’t think the Trump presidency makes 1.5C impossible. I think, at worst, it’s a disruption and, at best, a distraction. Everybody else knows the point on the horizon that we’re headed to…Companies see their future in a net-zero-carbon world.” (5:40-6:17)


Sharelines from this story
  • COP23 video: Does Donald Trump make limiting global warming to 1.5C impossible?
  • James Hansen: Trump's not going to be able to restore the coal industry

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