Ségolène Royal, France's environment minister, warned on Friday (November 11) of disastrous consequences of Donald Trump's plans to halt the United States' cooperation with the global community in tackling climate change. However, she added that she hoped Trump would not carry through the pledges made during his presidential campaign.
Her comments came as the UN's annual climate change conference convened in Marrakech, where discussions centred on the prospect of Trump, a climate change denier, withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement. This deal, which was agreed last year, aims to limit any global temperature rise this century to 1.5°C.
Speaking from Marrakech on Trump's campaign pledge to withdraw all US funding of UN climate change programmes, Royal said: "If such decisions are taken it would be absolutely catastrophic."
However, she said she hoped that Trump would not follow through with this threat. She said: "I dare to believe that such things are campaign promises to please a certain electorate which has not understood that global warming is a reality."
Though Trump's policy remains to be seen, there have already been indications that some of the pledges made on his campaign trail may not come to pass. Shortly after his election was announced, Trump's controversial policy to ban all Muslims from entering the US was removed from his website. However, the press release announcing the policy was later republished on the site.
Royal said: "I think that when he [Trump] actually takes office he will see that withdrawing from multilateral negotiations and climate issues would weaken the United States," before echoing the sentiments of UN Environment Programme executive director Erik Solheim, who said China could instead take a key role.
Donald Trump has previously stated that he would look to exploit the "$50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves" in the United States to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
However, the Paris Agreement aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions caused by the burning of the fossil fuels Trump hopes to make use of. The agreement seeks to prevent a rise in global temperatures of what is generally considered "dangerous climate change" of 2°C or more, which scientists believe would have huge global consequences such as droughts, extreme weather events and flooding.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that a "business as usual" approach in terms of fuel use would lead to a average global temperature increase of 2.6-4.8°C.