UN and France tell Donald Trump he must respect 'irreversible' climate deal

Failure to act against climate change will be ‘disastrous for future generations and it would be dangerous for peace,’ says French President Francois Hollande

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France and the United Nations have stepped up warnings to US President-elect Donald Trump about the risks of quitting a 2015 global plan to combat climate change, saying a historic shift from fossil fuels is unstoppable.

French President Francois Hollande, addressing almost 200 nations meeting in Morocco on ways to slow global warming, said that inaction would be “disastrous for future generations and it would be dangerous for peace”.

Both he and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Mr Trump, who has previously called man-made global warming a hoax, to drop a campaign pledge to cancel the global 2015 Paris Agreement that aims to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energies.

“The United States, the largest economic power in the world, the second largest greenhouse gas emitter, must respect the commitments it has undertaken,” Mr Hollande said to applause. The agreement was “irreversible”, he said.

In such UN meetings, it is very rare for leaders to single out others for even veiled criticism. Both Mr Hollande and Mr Ban were among the architects of the Paris Agreement.

“What was once unthinkable has become unstoppable,” Mr Ban said of the landmark Paris deal, agreed by almost 200 governments last year after two decades of tortuous negotiations.

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Mr Ban said Mr Trump, as a “very successful business person”, would understand that market forces were driving the world economy towards cleaner energies such as wind and solar power, which are becoming cheaper, away from fossil fuels.

“I am sure he [Trump] will make a fast and wise decision” on the Paris Agreement, Mr Ban said, saying he had spoken to Mr Trump by telephone after his victory and planned to meet him in person.

Mr Ban, who has made climate change a core part of his 10-year stewardship ending this year, said climate change was having severe impacts from the Arctic to Antarctica and that 2016 is on track to be the warmest year on record.

Mr Trump has said he wants to boost the US coal, oil and shale industries, abandoning President Barack Obama's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The Paris accord, aiming to phase out net greenhouse gas emissions this century, was driven by increased scientific certainty that man-made emissions drive heat waves, floods and rising sea levels.

Mr Trump's victory has overshadowed the Marrakesh meeting, which had opened last week with congratulations after the entry into force of the Paris agreement on 4 November. It now has formal backing from 110 nations including the United States.

A source on Mr Trump’s transition team said the President-elect is seeking ways of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement within a year, by-passing a theoretical four-year wait.

Delegates in Marrakesh say that US withdrawal could dent other nations' willingness to work with Mr Trump on other issues he cares about, such as immigration, trade or terrorism.

Nations as diverse as China, OPEC states and small island states have reaffirmed support for the Paris Agreement.