The election of Donald Trump as US President has raised concerns over international efforts to tackle climate change.
The election comes as the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) warned the planet had just experienced its hottest five-year period on record and is expected to confirm 2016 as a new record hot year in the coming days.
Mr Trump has previously said global warming was created by the Chinese to make US manufacturing unprofitable and pledged to pull out of the Paris Agreement, the world’s first comprehensive treaty on climate change which came into force last week.
The US ratified the deal earlier this year alongside China and no country can easily pull out for at least three years now that it has come into force.
Countries are currently meeting for the latest round of United Nations climate talks in Morocco, which are focusing on implementing the Paris Agreement
Campaigners warned efforts by the US to withdraw from the agreement would prove a setback to tackling rising emissions.
Kelly Stone, ActionAid policy analyst, said climate change was already having a major impact on the lives of millions of people in the US and around the world.
“The US has joined the Paris Agreement and must continue to meet its climate obligations.
“Leaving this important international agreement will damage our credibility with important overseas partners and would be a major setback in the fight against climate change.”
Other campaigners were defiant, warning the global transition to a zero carbon economy would not be “held up by one man”.
Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s international climate lead, said: “Last year’s Paris Agreement showed the world was united in its concern about climate change and its commitment to decarbonising the global economy.
“The rest of the world will not risk a global climate catastrophe because of one man’s opposition.”
He warned the US would pay a political and diplomatic cost of withdrawing and put itself at the back of the pack on the benefits of clean tech.
Ulriikka Aarnio, international climate policy co-ordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, said: “It is regrettable that the next US President has not yet understood that the world is on track to phase out fossil fuels.
“While it is clear that Mr Trump cannot withdraw the US nor undermine the Paris Agreement, there is a risk for the US to miss the boat in a race to a renewable future.”
She said there was “no fear” the world’s shift to clean energy would be held up by the election result and said the momentum created by the Paris Agreement would continue.