As Marrakech Climate Talks End, Worries Remain About U.S. Pullout : Parallels Negotiators had hoped the meeting would be the first step in implementing last year's Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the U.S. election has cast their plans into doubt.
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As Marrakech Climate Talks End, Worries Remain About U.S. Pullout

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As Marrakech Climate Talks End, Worries Remain About U.S. Pullout

As Marrakech Climate Talks End, Worries Remain About U.S. Pullout

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

For the past two weeks, representatives from about 200 countries have been in Morocco to talk about climate change. This conference was the first major meeting to follow the landmark agreement last year in Paris. But Donald Trump's victory last week complicated these talks. Trump has called climate change a hoax and has pledged to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement.

With us now from Marrakech, Morocco, is Susan Phillips. She's a reporter from WHYY in Philadelphia who's been covering the talks. Hi, there.

SUSAN PHILLIPS, BYLINE: Hi.

MCEVERS: So you were there on the day of the election. How did people react?

PHILLIPS: Just shock and devastation. There was a lot of tears, but, you know, pretty quickly people just went right into a defiant optimism. This is going to keep going. The Paris agreement - there's so much momentum behind it that it's just not going to fall apart.

MCEVERS: And remind us - what are negotiators trying to do there in Morocco?

PHILLIPS: So this follows the agreement reached in Paris last year to keep carbon emissions down enough to make sure that global temperatures don't rise more than 2 degrees Celsius. And the negotiators and the activists came here with goals to actually go beyond Paris, to make sure that the world is warming even less than 2 degrees above preindustrial levels.

But also more importantly, they came here to try to raise more money for developing countries. Poorer countries would need a lot more money to adapt and help reduce their own emissions.

MCEVERS: How did Donald Trump's victory in the presidential election change things there at the negotiations?

PHILLIPS: So these negotiators who were sort of rock stars in Paris suddenly became lame ducks here in Marrakech, and nobody really knew what was going to happen. Here's Catherine Novelli. She's an under secretary, and this was at a press briefing about oceans, but basically everybody just wanted to know about Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CATHERINE NOVELLI: You know, I just can't speculate. You know, I can only tell you what is right now. And, you know, that'll be for the future to answer.

PHILLIPS: So Novelli's not the only one that doesn't know what's going to happen. Everyone here doesn't know what's going to happen. And one of the biggest concerns is the money. You know, poorer nations need money from the wealthier nations in order to meet their own emissions goals. They also need to adapt to rising sea levels and droughts.

And what's really scary here for some of those really poor countries is, is that money going to come through? If the U.S. pulls out, will others pull out as well?

MCEVERS: So people saying they don't know what's going to happen, but how are the major players in the Paris Agreement talking about what would happen if the U.S. withdraws?

PHILLIPS: So China seems excited to take a leadership role. Every country here has said we are not going to withdraw, whether or not the U.S. pulls out. But again, it's - you know, it's open to question. And a lot will also depend on countries like India. I mean, for now, they're saying they're staying in, but there's so many unknowns.

And people here are still hoping to convince Trump that climate change is an important issue that he needs to address, that he needs to attack. And so they're here strategizing. And one of the things you'll hear is, well, maybe we should take an ad out in The Washington Post or maybe we should try to talk some sense into Trump's children. But at the end of the day, there's really a big unknown.

MCEVERS: Reporter Susan Phillips with WHYY, thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: You're welcome.

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