(Bloomberg) -- China couldn’t have invented global warming as a hoax to harm U.S. competitiveness because it was Donald Trump’s Republican predecessors who started climate negotiations in the 1980s, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said.
U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush supported the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in initiating global warming talks even before China knew that negotiations to cut pollution were starting, Liu told reporters at United Nations talks on Wednesday in Marrakech, Morocco.
Ministers and government officials from almost 200 countries gathered in Marrakech this week are awaiting a decision by President-elect Trump on whether he’ll pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change. The tycoon that the concept of global warming “was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” China’s envoy rejected that view.
“If you look at the history of climate change negotiations, actually it was initiated by the IPCC with the support of the Republicans during the Reagan and senior Bush administration during the late 1980s,” Liu told reporters during an hour-long briefing.
While Reagan died in 2004, George Schulz, who served as his secretary of state, has become one of the most prominent Republicans voicing concern about climate change and urging action.
“The potential results are catastrophic,” said Schulz, 95, in an interview with Bloomberg in 2014. “So let’s take out an insurance policy.”
Increased U.S. efforts to curb emissions through investing in new cleaner technologies and manufacturing could actually boost U.S. competitiveness, Liu countered. “That’s why I hope the Republican’s administration will continue to support this process.”
A fortnight of discussions in Marrakech were thrust into the spotlight last week by Trump’s victory. The negotiating texts being drafted by delegates and officials in north African country were suddenly overshadowed by a uncertain political future cast by Trump’s shadow over the two-decade-old process.
Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped secure the Paris Agreement last year, said the majority of U.S. citizens back action on climate change and tried to assuage concern.
“No one has a right to make decisions for billions of people based solely on ideology,” he said. “Climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It isn’t a partisan issue for our military. It isn’t a partisan issue for our intelligence community.”
China’s President Xi Jinping underlined the importance of cooperation between the two largest economies when he spoke to Trump on Monday, said Liu, who added China will continue its fight against climate change “whatever the circumstances.”
He added that richer nations should take more responsibility than poor countries for financing the fight against climate change, in line with the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. “Of course we’re still expecting developed countries including the United States will continue to take the lead on mitigating climate change,” he said.
(Updates with minister’s comment on financing responsibility in last paragraph.)
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