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Trump's relationship with environment comes into focus after election win

Then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a sign supporting coal during a rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on October 10, 2016.
Dominick Reuter | AFP | Getty Images
Then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a sign supporting coal during a rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on October 10, 2016.

After Donald Trump's shock victory over Hillary Clinton in the race to the White House, the President-elect's attitudes on climate change, global warming and the environment are being examined in minute detail by organizations, researchers, charities and governments the world over.

Trump will not have inspired confidence with his previous statements on topics relating to global warming. In 2012, he tweeted that the concept of global warming "was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."

He has also threatened to pull the U.S. out of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement, which came into force just this month. Under the agreement, world leaders have agreed to make sure global warming stays "well below" 2 degrees Celsius and to "pursue efforts" to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

On Thursday, Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser told CNBC that "all the people on this planet… want to have a better planet, and a more sustainable energy agenda, that's a given."

"This is not going to be much affected by elections anywhere in the world, this is just what people want," Kaeser added.

In the immediate aftermath of Trump's victory, the American Wind Energy Association stated that it was "ready to work" with a Trump administration to "assure that wind power continues to be a vibrant part of the U.S. economy."

The Solar Energy Industries Association's interim president, Tom Kimbis, congratulated Trump and said that the U.S. solar industry would "continue to innovate and provide clean, competitive, reliable, and affordable energy for all Americans."

Others, however, are uncertain about how a Trump presidency could benefit the environment.

In a forthright statement after Trump's victory, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said "science cannot expect any positive climate action from him (Trump)."

"The world has now to move forward without the U.S. on the road towards climate-risk mitigation and clean-technology innovation," Schellnhuber added.

The World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) president and CEO Carter Roberts noted in a statement that while the presidency would be changing, "the threats posed by runaway climate change and unsustainable resource-use remain."

"We urge the President-elect to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and to honor the commitments we've made to solve the climate crisis and to conserve the world's oceans, forests and species," Roberts went on to say.

Whether or not this happens remains to be seen. What we do know is that on Wednesday shares in global wind energy company Vestas closed down 8.5 percent. Shares in Caterpillar, by contrast, were up 7.7 percent.