On a cold Wednesday morning, climate and environment representatives from almost 200 countries and several NGOs met for the third day of the United Nations climate talks in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Trump has said he wants to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord.
The mood here was one of an eerily quiet shock and a realization that climate action may well have taken a huge blow. Some looked to Twitter and found dark humor in the situation, comparing Trump to Italy's Silvio Berlusconi.
Katherine Egland, chairman of environmental and climate justice for the NAACP compared the climate movement under Trump to the civil rights movement. He has achieved notoriety for his zealous promotion of unscientific climate change denial. And Jason Bordoff, a former energy adviser to the White House and now with Columbia University, says that gives Trump an opening.
Lou del Bello, a journalist based in Nairobi, compared the feeling of Trump's election to what she went through as an Italian immigrant during the Brexit referendum. Already, he sounds far more conciliatory than we have come to expect, and the vitriol of one of the most unpleasant electoral campaigns in most people's memory is a thing of the past (although it's hard to think of a more awkward meeting than that on Thursday between the incumbent and the president-elect). "The [Trump victory] is like the spread of the same virus". If the USA backs out of that, it might look to developing countries like a bait and switch. So, ironically, for all of Trump's vows to create new American jobs, if he keeps his promises on environmental issues, he could wind up shipping even more U.S.jobs to China.
Republican Congressman Bill Johnson says he hopes Trump gets rid of the Clean Power Plan, however. "America has numerous opportunities to create a modern, high-efficiency economy that is suited for the 21st century" by investing in clean energy, said Andrew Steer, president the Washington, DC-based World Resources Institute. Even if it were a hoax and fossil fuels had absolutely no negative impact on the environment, our president-elect would still face an arguably insurmountable obstacle to reviving the dying coal industry (and it's one Trump as a businessman is particularly primed to understand): the bottom line.
Among the new legislation that the contract mentions is a "revenue-neutral" American Energy and Infrastructure Act, which "leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over ten years". "Is he conscious of what is going on with climate change?"
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, climate change can lead to "increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries and premature deaths related to extreme weather events, changes in the prevalence and geographical distribution of food- and water-borne illnesses and other infectious diseases, and threats to mental health". The United States, if it follows through on its new president's rash words about withdrawing from the worldwide climate regime, will become a pariah state in global efforts for climate action.
"The U.S. has joined the Paris agreement and must continue to meet its climate obligations", Kelly Stone, a climate campaigner at ActionAid, said at the United Nations talks in Marrakech. However, the United States Supreme Court in February 2016 halted implementation pending a judicial review.
So, while only a week ago we could read that Paris climate deal enters force as focus shifts to action, the Guardian now reports Paris climate deal thrown into uncertainty by U.S. election result, and yesterday's New York Times carried the headline Donald Trump could put climate change on course for "Danger Zone".
But if the U.S. reneges on a commitment to give poor countries $2.5 billion (£2 billion) to help them cope with climate impacts, he added, "that would cause difficulties". "President Obama has broken that precedent". Withdrawal of one party from the agreement doesn't mean anything.
"This is what he said during the campaign period, on the campaign trail", Ban said.
In the end, many stressed, one man won't be able to single-handedly dismantle an global agreement that took 21 years to negotiate and a record-breaking 10 months to bring into force. India may be a fairly distant fourth in the league of emitters, with an output less than a quarter of that of China, but it is on course to become the world's most populous country and has ambitions to become a global economic power. Whether the United States will agree to commit more funds to help poorer countries deal with the climate damage caused by industrialized nations has always been an issue - it will now be of particular debate as the worldwide community prepares for the country to be led by a climate denier.
"Paris agreement carries an enormous amount of credibility".
"A gut punch to the planet" is how environmental group Friends of the Earth described his upset victory.
"Now the election campaign has passed and the realities of leadership settle in, I expect he will realize that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the USA, including my own", Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands, said by e-mail.