Changes to US climate policy under Donald Trump will not stall global efforts to cut carbon emissions, a report by credit agency Moody’s said.
Mr Trump has previously labelled climate change a hoax by the Chinese to undermine US manufacturing, pledged to pull out of the world’s first comprehensive climate treaty – the Paris Agreement – and promised to boost fossil fuel use.
In his first weeks in office, he has signed executive actions to advance the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines and pursued deregulation in the environmental field.
The report from Moody’s said climate policy in the US was likely to become less ambitious under Mr Trump, which could pose a problem for the efforts to tackle global warming under the Paris Agreement if other countries were to back away from their commitments.
But institutional and private sector momentum would continue to drive sustainability and climate change action, it said.
And with most countries, including major players such as China, the EU and India, reaffirming their commitment to the Paris Agreement, and nations continuing to ratify the deal, the US could become increasingly marginalised on climate issues.
The report also suggested that green initiatives at a sub-national level, such as by US states, would be important in moving national policies forward to tackle climate change.
More than two dozen US states have programmes to reduce emissions, Moody’s said.
International action is also occurring outside the Paris Agreement, with work by the G20 group of leading economies and Financial Stability Board (FSB) taskforce on climate-related financial disclosures suggesting efforts will continue.
The number of private sector companies taking action to cut their emissions and ensure sustainability is already on the increase and will continue to rise, the report said.
Changes beyond government policy, such as the shift from coal to gas, the declining costs and increasing efficiency of renewables and technology advances in electricity storage and alternative fuel vehicles will also support efforts to cut carbon.
Rahul Ghosh, vice president – senior credit officer at Moody’s and the report’s co-author, said: “Some aspects of climate policy in the US may be altered or dropped under the new administration.
“Nevertheless, we believe that powerful structural forces at play, including robust institutional and private sector momentum, will continue to drive global sustainable and climate agendas regardless of the direction of US federal climate policy.”
The Paris Agreement commits countries to take action to limit temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to keep them to 1.5C, which requires emissions to be cut to net zero by the second half of the century.
Current plans outlined by countries are not enough to meet the targets, so there is a review mechanism to encourage nations to raise their ambitions.