The next U.S. administration should continue to support the historic Paris Agreement on climate change to avoid a repeat of the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said here Wednesday. "We hope that the U.S. will continue to play a leadership role in the climate change process as people are worried about a repeat of the experience of the Kyoto Protocol," Liu told reporters on the sidelines of a United Nations climate conference.
He was in response to a question about speculations that the United States would pull out of the Paris Agreement after climate change denier Donald Trump takes over from President Barack Obama. During his campaign, Trump described the issue of climate change as a 'hoax" and vowed to cancel various actions taken by the Obama administration, including the U.S. ratification of the Paris Agreement. Liu recalled that the United States played an "extremely important" role in the negotiations of the Paris Agreement, which will replace the ill-fated Kyoto Protocol in 2020 to guide global cooperation in countering climate change.
The Kyoto Protocol has so far not been fully implemented due to the withdrawal of the United States in 2001 and lack of support from other developed nations. The Paris Agreement has taken into account of U.S. interests and represented comprehensive, inclusive and collective efforts of the international community in addressing climate change, he said. Liu stressed that as the largest economy and the largest developed country in the world, the United States' support for the Paris Agreement will be "essential". "We shall have to wait and see what position they will take, but we... expect that they will take a right and smart decision to live up to the world's expectations," he said. China's support for and commitment to the Paris Agreement will not be affected by the stance to be taken by the new U.S. administration, Liu said, adding that China will continue its cooperation with the United States and European countries in the fight against climate change.
Despite the uncertainty caused by Trump's election victory, Liu is optimistic about the prospect of the climate change negotiations process. "This climate change process will continue after the Marrakech conference. Parties will be even more united in moving forward the climate change negotiations," he said. Liu said the ongoing UN climate conference, the first of its kind after the Paris Agreement entered into force early this month, is particularly important in view of the rumors about a possible shift of the U.S. policy on climate change. The two-week gathering, which entered the ministerial phase Tuesday, has brought together thousands of government officials as well as representatives from international organizations, civil society and businesses. It aims to set rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. According to Liu, the conference is expected to issue an action declaration by the end of its ministerial segment, which will be a political statement demonstrating all parties' strong support for and confidence in the Paris Agreement.