For many who oppose Donald Trump's imminent rise to the presidency, there are few issues more scary than the potential of climate change disaster under President Trump. Trump ran against the scientific consensus on climate change, has hinted that he may nominate a prominent climate skeptic who has lobbied on behalf the energy industry to run the Environmental Protection Agency, and has even claimed that climate change is a Chinese hoax. In 2012, he actually tweeted, "We can't destroy the competitiveness of our factories in order to prepare for nonexistent global warming. China is thrilled with us!"
Now that Trump has been elected president, the Chinese are taking interest in that statement, and in pointing out how absurd it is to anyone who knows much about the history of climate change or international relations. At a global climate meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, members of the Chinese delegation called out Trump for his unfounded claims.
“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,” said China's vice foreign minister, Liu Zhenmin, to reporters. Liu pointed out that the climate change action does not even have to be bad for industry, and that the United States has the potential to be a leader in the alternative energy economy.
In the week and a half since Trump was elected, this is not even the first rebuke of his potential policies from the Chinese government. The Global Times, a state-run newspaper in China, published an editorial proclaiming that if Trump followed through on his threats of massive tariffs on Chinese goods, China would retaliate with its own tariffs, as well as order fewer goods from American companies.
Now that the campaign is over, Trump will begin to deal with the task of actually governing the country, and we are already seeing how difficult it can be to implement campaign rhetoric against countries that have their own citizens, economy, and place on the international stage. Trump stressed his desire in May to pull America out of the Paris Climate Accords. As Minister Liu pointed out, that agreement is the result of decades of negotiations. It is co-signed by 174 nations and the European Union. While Trump does have some power as president to block a significant amount of climate policy in the United States, he does not have the power to make the rest world do the same.
Trump touts his ability to make deals and asserts that, as president, he will make better deals with foreign countries. But by taking on the overwhelming consensus of the world on an issue that is already an existential threat to some countries, Trump could be starting out the trade negotiations he's so eagerly teased with other nations' leaders already looking to exact punishment on the United States.