On Nov. 5, the landmark Paris climate change accord was effectively set into international law, with 96 countries all over the world formally ratifying the agreement.
But with this global milestone comes a looming uncertainty: now that known climate change denier Donald Trump has been elected as the new President of the United States, what will happen to the goals set by his predecessor?
Donald Trump's Stance On Climate Change
Several green groups that gathered at the United Nations climate talk in Morocco believe that it would be "a disaster" if Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate change accord, which took two decades to negotiate.
"Pulling out of the Paris agreement matters not just in leadership, but also in a direct impact on the climate," said Andrew Jones of think-tank Climate Interactive. The United States is one of the biggest contributors of carbon emissions worldwide, only second to China and followed by India.
It would also be an issue if Trump acts on his word to use public land for oil, coal and gas extraction, the groups said. During his campaign, Trump has vowed to revive the country's coal industry and increase oil and gas drilling, despite numbers revealing that the use of natural gas caused the decline in coal, according to The Guardian.
Trump also plans to disregard former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which was the previous administration's major policy designed to lower carbon emissions in the country. The plan involves cutting down carbon emissions from the power sector by 32 percent from 2005 levels in the next 15 years.
Carbon Emissions Under Trump's Presidency
An analysis from Lux Research estimated that greenhouse gas emissions under Trump's administration would increase by 16 percent by the end of his second term, compared with that under Clinton's presidency.
Experts believe the potential surge in carbon emissions can push the planet toward a perilous climate change, as well as discourage other countries from reaching the necessary reduction in emissions.
David Sandalow, a fellow at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, said if Trump withdraws the country from the climate change agreement, it would potentially create a strategic opportunity for China. He said the East Asian country would gain credibility for sticking with its plans even as the United States backs away.
Meanwhile, environmental groups are urging the president-elect to pay attention to curbing greenhouse gas emissions and aligning with the interests of the world.
May Boeve, head of 350.org, said no political affiliation or belief can change the truth that "every new oil well and pipeline" pushes the world nearer to catastrophe.
"The new president must protect the people he serves from climate chaos," added Boeve.