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Trump election causes climate uncertainty

AAP logoAAP 14/11/2016

International talks on climate change are marked by a sense of uncertainty about where an America led by Donald Trump is headed.

But Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, who is at the talks in Marrakech, says the incumbent US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz has reassured him America is heading towards a low-carbon future even if the Trump administration pulls out of the landmark Paris agreement on climate change action.

"Even though Donald Trump has made these comments about the Paris agreement, (Dr Moniz) said that America is transitioning as an economy and good work particularly in the innovation space and the energy efficiency space was well underway," Mr Frydenberg told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Dr Moniz said a large amount of US emissions would be cut through more than 50 legislated energy efficiency standards, which Mr Trump would find very difficult to remove.

"I'm sure Donald Trump will want to maintain America's edge when it comes to innovation and the work that is being done in that area," Mr Frydenberg said.

But he acknowledged the US had a major impact on international agreements and had never before pulled out of one that had come into force.

The Paris agreement, which came into force on November 4, has been ratified by more than 100 nations, including the US, China, the European Union and Australia.

It commits countries to working towards limiting global warming to two degrees and setting five-yearly emissions reductions targets.

President Barack Obama told reporters in Washington the past eight years had shown it was possible to grow the American economy quickly while cutting carbon emissions.

He said "absolutely" the Trump administration would change policies but the Paris agreement was important because it locked other major nations, such as China and India, into cutting emissions too.

"These international agreements, the tradition has been that you carry them forward across administrations, particularly if, once you actually examine them, it turns out that they're doing good for us and binding other countries into behaviour that will help us," Mr Obama said.

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