MARRAKECH, Morocco – As climate negotiators from around the world came together in Morocco to hammer out implementation of the historic Paris Agreement, a fractured American electorate thrust a wrench of discontent into the gears of diplomacy.
The United States, which just a year before had muscled forward a deal seen as the world’s best chance to avoid the worst effects of climate change, had selected Donald Trump, an avowed climate skeptic who has promised to pull out of the agreement.
Amid a climate of uncertainty that Trump’s surprise election has created in Marrakech, delegates vowed to press forward. Activists modified their messages to depend less on executive power and more on “people power.” Scientists who have studied and confirmed climate change shook their heads and continued to offer their support to policymakers.
Meanwhile, developing countries like China and India are pushing forward investments in green energy, even as their carbon emissions continue to soar. Most-affected nations continue to call for help, mindful that the ambitious goals of the agreement could quickly slip from reach. And wealthier countries, already facing their own fights back home, contemplate how to best achieve ambitious goals on climate while staring down the prospect that one of their strongest allies may suddenly be on the sidelines.
A team of GroundTruth editors and reporters traveled to Marrakech to find the stories behind the negotiations, specifically those related to people most affected by climate change and allies working on their behalf. This project is tied to our series “Living Proof: The Human Toll of Climate Change,” supported by the JMB Charitable Fund.
– Kevin D. Grant, Managing Editor