Macron seeks to galvanise world on climate action

A demonstration outside the Pantheon in Paris yesterday, on the sidelines of the One Planet summit. More than 200 institutional investors with $35 trillion in assets under management said they would step up pressure on the world's biggest corporate g
A demonstration outside the Pantheon in Paris yesterday, on the sidelines of the One Planet summit. More than 200 institutional investors with $35 trillion in assets under management said they would step up pressure on the world's biggest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to combat climate change.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

French leader urges progress on goals set by Paris accord after Trump pulls US out of pact

PARIS • 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.

Mr Macron is hosting the One Planet summit, which kicked off yesterday, two years after nearly 200 governments agreed in Paris to end their heavy reliance on fossil fuels and limit global warming.

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

Mr Macron issued a stark warning on climate change. "We are losing the battle" against global warming, he told world leaders at the summit. "We're not moving fast enough, that's the problem."

Mr Trump's decision to withdraw was a "deep wake-up call for the private sector" to take action, Mr Macron had earlier told CBS News in an interview broadcast on Monday.

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

NEED FOR URGENCY

We are losing the battle... We're not moving fast enough, that's the problem.

FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON, on how the world is losing the fight against climate change.

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 (S$35 trillion) in assets under management yesterday said 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 it 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 European Union plans to present in March to meet the target of cutting carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2030.

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.

Some 50 world leaders and ministers are in Paris, including leaders of states at the sharp end of climate change such as Chad, Bolivia and Haiti. The US will send only an official delegation from the Paris Embassy, but screen superstars, including Leonardo Di Caprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger, are championing more action.

In a pointed piece of timing, Mr 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.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2017, with the headline 'Macron seeks to galvanise world on climate action'. Print Edition | Subscribe