US Secretary of State John Kerry says an “overwhelming majority” of Americans know that climate change is happening, and want their country to honour its commitments under the Paris climate agreement.
Speaking at a UN climate conference in Marrakech, Mr Kerry praised the Paris deal as a framework that is “built to last”.
US President-elect Donald Trump has called global warming a “hoax” and pledged during the campaign to “cancel” the Paris deal aimed at fighting climate change.
Without mentioning Donald Trump by name, Mr Kerry’s speech at the UN climate talks was partly aimed at the Republican president-elect – who has called global warming a “hoax” and has pledged to “cancel” the Paris deal limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
“No one has the right to make decisions that affect billions of people based solely on ideology or without proper input,” Mr Kerry said.
The US election outcome has created deep uncertainty about America’s role in international climate talks – and about the Paris Agreement adopted last year by more than 190 countries. But Mr Kerry said the US was already in the midst of a clean energy transition that would continue regardless of policy-making.
“I can tell you with confidence that the United States is right now today on our way to meeting all of the international targets we have set,” Mr Kerry said.
“Because of the market decisions that are being made, I do not believe that that can or will be reversed.”
The Obama administration pledged during the Paris negotiations to reduce US emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025.
With 2016 on track to be the hottest year on record, Mr Kerry said the impacts of global warming are now evident across the world with record-breaking droughts, rising sea levels, unusual storms and millions of people displaced by weather events.
“At some point even the strongest sceptic has to acknowledge that something disturbing is happening,” he said.
Mr Kerry said climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue and noted that military and intelligence leaders have recognised its potential as a “threat-multiplier”.
He asked leaders in all parts of the world, “including my own”, to inform themselves about climate change by talking to scientists, economists, business leaders and other experts.
“I ask you on behalf of billions of people around the world … do your own diligence before making irrevocable choices,” he said.