United States President-elect Donald Trump rose to victory ahead of a fiery campaign filled with grand promises such as a pledge to protect American industries by tearing up climate-change legislation.
These claims were challenged by China this week during international climate-change talks in Marrakech, where Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters that climate change was not a “hoax,” alluding to comments Trump had made in 2012.
Back then, Trump called climate change a “hoax” created by the Chinese to hamper the American manufacturing sector’s ability to compete in the global economy. No stranger to social media controversy, Trump took plenty of backlash when he Tweeted: “We can’t destroy the competitiveness of our factories in order to prepare for nonexistent global warming. China is thrilled with us!”
Nonetheless, Minister Liu expressed during the conference that his country is committed to addressing environmental issues stemming from climate change, and that it is still possible for the task to be carried out by Beijing and their Republican counterparts in the U.S.
In fact, Liu pointed out that it was the GOP which lead America’s role in kicking off international climate-change negotiations, when it supported the United Nation’s International Panel for Climate Change in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
In attendance was U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who reminded reporters that several actions taken by a president in office can vary vastly from what was promised during a campaign.
“I know the election has left some uncertainty about the future,” Kerry said. “I can’t speculate about what policies the President-elect will pursue, but I’ve learned that some issues look a little bit different when you’re in office compared to campaign. Climate change should not be a partisan issue in the first place.”
Still, Trump has taken a name for himself as an indecisive figure shrouded in uncertainty. And many of his promises, including dismissing the Paris agreements that the U.S. signed off on climate change last year, aren’t as far-fetched as critics may think.
Former U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, who is considered the architect of President Barack Obama’s climate strategy, told CNN that Trump could pull the U.S. out of the agreement in about four years if he gathers enough support.