The US special envoy on climate change has said that the Paris climate deal will continue to exist even under Donald Trump, amid reports that Trump could withdraw the country from the pact.
Jonathan Pershing, the lead negotiator for Washington, told a packed press briefing that the efforts put in by the countries that have ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement are good enough to withstand the impact of the Trump presidency.
"Heads of state can and will change but I am confident that we can and we will sustain a durable international effort to counter climate change," the BBC quoted him as saying.
Pershing's comments come as global leaders are gathering in Marrakech in Morocco to take the deal forward. The countries have been discussing how to implement the treaty and beginning Tuesday (15 November, 2016), the leaders are expected to sketch out a roadmap for signatory countries to take steps to achieve the goals detailed in the pact. A deal in Morocco is seen as more important than the Paris deal itself.
The meeting is reported to have been staggered amid concerns over the possibility of Trump withdrawing the US from the pact. Earlier in May, the Republican had called the deal a 'hoax' and also threatened to stop all Pentagon payments to the UN body that is tasked with global warming programmes.
Pershing said the US will soon see the transition to a new presidential administration and that in the coming weeks, he expects personnel from the transition team to start arriving at the State Department to begin planning the "shape and thrust" of American diplomacy for the next four years.
He said he had no information on who would be his successor but added that whoever takes over should be familiar with the strength of the climate deal and work in helping the world achieve its goal.
"The Paris agreement protects economic growth and the environment, all while providing nationally determined flexibility to accommodate differing circumstances," Pershing said. "It is durable, it is inclusive it is ambitious."
EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said he hoped the US would adhere to the treaty as they "have to do their fair share to fix the climate" being the second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world.
Washington ratified the treaty along with China during the G20 summit held in September.