A young boy from the remote Turkana tribe in Northern Kenya stands on a dried up river bed on November 9, 2009 near Lodwar, Kenya.
Obama's climate change plans at stake
01:25 - Source: CNN

Watch CNN International for the full interview with Todd Stern on International Desk with Robyn Curnow at 11am ET Friday.

Story highlights

Trump accused China of creating global warming concept

China says Republicans supported first climate change talks

CNN  — 

Beijing has turned the tables on US President-elect Donald Trump over his accusation that climate change is a Chinese hoax, claiming that it was the Republican’s own party that initiated global warming negotiations.

Trump in 2012 infamously claimed China had created the concept of climate change to make America’s manufacturing sector less competitive, dubbing the global phenomenon “bulls**t” and “non-existent.”

During international climate change talks in Marrakech on Wednesday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin reminded reporters that climate change negotiations began with the UN’s International Panel for Climate Change in the 1980s, supported by the US Republican-led administrations under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

It was the EU and the US who brought full climate change awareness to China, he said, according to notes sent to CNN by a Chinese delegate traveling with him.

Liu reiterated that climate change was not a hoax and that it was possible for Republicans to continue to support the process of addressing it, the delegate said.

The comments are something of a slap in the face to Trump, who painted China as an enemy of America, claiming the Asian powerhouse was “taking our jobs and taking our money.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry tried to reassure delegates on Washington’s stance on climate change.

“I know the election has left some uncertainty about the future. I can’t speculate about what policies the President-elect will pursue, but I’ve learned that some issues look a little bit different when you’re in office compared to campaign. Climate change should not be a partisan issue in the first place,” he said in Marrakech.

“No one has a right to make decisions that affect billions based solely on ideology or without proper input,” he said.

China and the US are the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases that are causing the earth’s temperatures to rise, according to UN data.

The two powers were not signatories to the Kyoto protocol that obliged developed nations to cut emissions by a certain percentage between the years 2005 and 2020.

The US refused to sign the protocol and any other such binding agreement unless China was included.

The two nations did, however, sign the Paris agreement in climate change talks last year, which involves both developed and developing countries. It aims to keep the world’s rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to create a carbon-neutral world by 2100.

Trump has said he plans to dump the agreement, which he described as a “bad deal.”

Scientists say a 2-degree Celsius rise would be dangerous for the planet.

Can America dump the Paris agreement?

Liu capped off his comments on America by saying the country should be more positive on climate change, considering it had a huge market from green energy and the technology to prosper from a low-carbon economy.

Former US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern – considered the architect of President Barack Obama’s climate strategy – said that it would take the United States at least four years to formally pull out of the Paris agreement if Trump did gain support to do so.

“What President-elect Trump could do is to essentially de facto walk away from it. And that would be a hugely bad idea on his part – it would be foolish,” Stern told CNN’s Robyn Curnow in an interview with “International Desk,” to air Friday.

He also said that shunning the agreement would create “collateral damage” for the United States, and that it was “completely plausible” that China could step in as leader of climate change talks in the US’ place.

“I think the Chinese have made it clear and, to their credit, that they intend to stick by this agreement and to push it forward,” he said.