Rules and regulations designed to curb carbon emissions under the terms of an international climate change accord will be issued more quickly than previously expected, according to the State Department.
The implementation of the Paris agreement is a top priority for negotiators at the COP 22 Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, which began Monday. But supporters of the deal are wary of GOP nominee Donald Trump's pledge to pull out of the climate deal if he wins the White House.
"There's a huge political momentum; entry into force now really shapes the agreement and the structure," Jonathan Pershing, the special envoy for climate change, told reporters at the State Department on Monday. "[There will be] aggressive acceleration of the timetable on the detailed development of rules and regulations and guidance that come out of the Paris Agreement.
"We'd originally thought those would really be postponed for some time; there was going to be a five or a six-year process. The very rapid entry into force has changed the dynamic, and we now anticipate we'll have those concluded by 2018. So a very rapid acceleration of the work, of the technical guidance and detail."
Proponents of the climate deal have warned repeatedly that international governments are "in a race against time" to avert environmental catastrophe. But the prospect of Trump's victory was another motivating force for the United Nations negotiators, who rushed to bring the Paris deal into force before the November election.
"There's a huge amount at stake in whether the United States is in the agreement or not," Robert C. Orr, an adviser to U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, told the New York Times in September.
The Paris agreement calls for party nations to implement carbon emission reductions by 2050, but the rush to ratify the deal won't necessarily lead to a total elimination of carbon emissions in the United States.
"There is no formal goal for 2050," Pershing said. "We will be looking at a variety of scenarios where we can do significant global and U.S. reductions in emissions. It's not around a particular target number; it's around trajectories. How can you do these radical reductions? The president has indicated that we would at least be working to an 80 percent reduction by the year 2050."