French President Emmanuel Macron seeks climate action after US withdrawal from Paris accord

French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting the One Planet summit two years after nearly 200 governments agreed in Paris to end their heavy reliance on fossil fuels and limit further global warming.
French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting the One Planet summit two years after nearly 200 governments agreed in Paris to end their heavy reliance on fossil fuels and limit further global warming.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (REUTERS) - French President Emmanuel Macron is urging wealthy countries and global companies to commit more funds to combating global warming and help poorer nations deal with the impact of climate change.

The French leader is hosting the "One Planet" summit two years after nearly 200 governments agreed in Paris to end their heavy reliance on fossil fuels and limit further global warming.

Macron wants to show that progress towards those hard-fought goals is being made after President Donald Trump said in June that he was taking the United States out of the pact.

Trump's decision to withdraw was a "deep wake-up call for the private sector" to take action, he said.

"If we decide not to move and not change our way to produce, to invest, to behave, we will be responsible for billions of victims," Macron told US television channel CBS News in an interview broadcast on Monday night (Dec 11).

Though Macron has said that concrete projects with real financing behind them are lacking, no internationally binding commitments will be announced at the summit.

In focus is how public and private financial institutions can mobilise more money and how investors can pressure corporate giants to shift towards more ecologically friendly strategies.

More than 200 institutional investors with US$26 trillion in assets under management said on Tuesday (Dec 12) they would step up pressure on the world's biggest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to combat climate change.

That, they said, would be more effective than threatening to pull the plug on their investments in companies, which include Coal India, Gazprom, Exxon Mobil and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.

Separately, European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said the executive was "looking positively" at plans to reduce capital requirements for environmentally-friendly investments by banks in a bid to boost the green economy.

The move could be part of a broader set of measures the EU plans to present in March to meet the target of cutting carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, for which it estimates around 180 billion euros (US$212.2 billion) in additional low-carbon investments are needed per year.

FUNDING GAP

Climate change is causing more frequent and severe flooding, droughts, storms and heatwaves as average global temperatures rise to new records, sea ice melts in the Arctic and sea levels rise.

Developing nations say the rich are lagging with a commitment dating back to 2009 to provide US$100 billion a year by 2020 - from public and private sources alike - to help them switch from fossil fuels to greener energy sources and adapt to the effects of climate change.

"The missing piece of the jigsaw is the funding to help the world's poorer countries access clean energy so they don't follow the fossil fuel-powered path of the rich world," said Mohamed Adow, charity Christian Aid's lead on climate change.

On Tuesday, the European Commission unveiled 9 billion euros worth of investments targetting sustainable cities, sustainable energy and sustainable agriculture for Africa and EU neighbourhood countries.

Some 50 world leaders and ministers are due in Paris, including Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and leaders of states at the sharp end of climate change such as Chad, Bolivia and Haiti.

The United States will send only an official delegation from the Paris Embassy, but screen superstars Leonardo Di Caprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and California Governor Jerry Brown, leader of the world's sixth largest economy, are championing more action.

In a pointed piece of timing, Macron used the eve of the summit to award 18 grants to foreign climate scientists, most of whom are currently US-based, to come and work in France.