UN officials convened in Morocco on Monday to begin negotiating terms of a sweeping climate pact aimed at combating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The talk will focus on ironing out details of the 2015 Paris Agreements, the world’s first “near-universal, legally binding climate deal,” according to the UN. The deal was adopted last December by nearly 200 member countries, and recently took effect after receiving official support from top greenhouse gas emitters like the U.S., China, and India.
With global efforts to address climate change recovering after years of stagnation, the Paris Agreements represent a landmark step.
“We’re now in an interesting conundrum we never thought we’d find ourselves in: After pushing for decisive and speedy action, we got it,” said Paula Caballero, global director of the climate program at the Washington-based World Resources Institute.
Set to coincide with the controversial U.S. elections, however, many officials are concerned that a potential Donald Trump victory on Tuesday could derail the entire effort.
During his campaign, Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the effect of man-made climate change and pledged to “cancel the Paris Climate agreement,” as well as other “job-destroying Obama executive actions” related to the environment.
UN officials, for their part, have been emphatic that the plan must go forward.
“There is no possible turning back in the negotiation on what was agreed in Paris,” said Morocco’s Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, during a news conference on Sunday. “We can only advance.”
The results of the committee’s progress will be of particular concern to Tunisia, which faces unique risks in terms of climate change.
An environmental report released last year found that Tunisia, with its high dependence on agriculture and proximity to the coast is in a position of “profound environmental and socioeconomic vulnerability.” Coupled with substandard infrastructure and a steady increase in droughts, the North African country is “among the most exposed Mediterranean countries in terms of climate change.”
At particular risk is the country’s thriving olive industry, which employs around 390,000 agricultural workers and brought in more than $1 billion last year.