World leaders in Paris seek cash for climate action

Paris: World leaders met in Paris on Tuesday seeking to unlock more money to drive the global economy’s shift to green energy, exactly two years after signing a global pact to avert worst-case-scenario global warming. Without trillions of dollars invested in clean energy technology, the Paris Agreement’s goal to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels will remain a pipe dream, participants warned.
“While the challenge is great, we must do everything in our power to meet it. We know it is the difference between life and death for millions of vulnerable people around the world,” said Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji who presided over UN climate talks in Bonn last month.
“There are trillions of dollars sitting in private investment institutions… and they are all looking for opportunities to earn a return. We must unlock that finance,” he told delegates.
French President Emmanuel Macron gathered some 60 world leaders, partly in response to US President Donald Trump’s announcement in June that he would pull America out of the Paris pact which had taken nearly 200 nations more than two decades to negotiate.
Mankind’s voracious burning of oil, coal and natural gas is blamed for planet-warming greenhouse gases that have caused the average global temperature to rise by about 1 C to date.
On current emissions trends, the world was on course for warming of 3 C, experts warn, with life- and asset-threatening superstorms, sea-level rise, floods and droughts the result.
Trump, who has described climate change as a “hoax”, has withdrawn billions of dollars in climate finance — including an outstanding $2 billion out of $3 billion the US, under his predecessor Barack Obama, had pledged towards the Green Climate Fund.
Macron on Tuesday called for “much stronger mobilisation” by remaining partners.
“We are very far from the goal of the Paris agreement of limiting the rise in temperatures to below a two-degree threshold,” he told Le Monde newspaper.
UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa warned political action “will not be enough if we do not update and reset the global finance architecture and make all development low-emission, resilient, and sustainable”.
Money has long been a sore point in the UN climate process, with developing nations insisting on aid to ease the costly shift to less-polluting energy sources, and to shore up defences against climate-change induced weather disasters.
In the absence of climate champion Obama, who helped push the Paris pact over the finish line, American businesses, regions and local government leaders have taken up the cudgels, and were represented in Paris by the likes of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, ex-governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Among the leaders in attendance on Tuesday were UN chief Antonio Guterres, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto, Theresa May of Britain and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy. — AFP