At the ‘One Planet Summit’ in Paris, leaders from 50 countries are meeting to discuss how to best tackle climate change. French President Emmanuel Macron, who is hosting the event, took a firm stance saying that we’re just not doing enough to combat this problem. “We’re not moving quick enough. We all need to act,” he urged summit participants.
These days, on the two-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, world leaders are meeting in the French capital to add more momentum to the climate change movement. Well, some are, at least.
Donald Trump was not invited to the summit, with mister Macron telling Time that the US was not willing to “join the club” on combating climate change. However, in a light-hearted jab at the US President, the summit’s tagline is “Make the planet great again,” alluding to Trump’s slogan “Make America great again.”
Despite the official stance of the White House, over a thousand governors, mayors, and CEOs in the US have pledged to address climate issues, regardless of the country’s political direction. Regardless of what happens in the US, other countries are determined to move forth and transition to a clean economy. Currently, the US is the only nation that wants to abandon the Paris Agreement, after the only two other countries on Earth that hadn’t yet ratified the agreement, Syria and Nicaragua, doing so earlier this year.
Attendees, including Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and the secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, all expressed interest in accelerating the fight against climate change. However, the problem of funding still reigns. In Paris, developed countries pledged to offer developing countries $100bn every year to help them transition to sustainable energy faster. The funds were also designated to help developing countries become more resilient in the face of climate change, making them better prepared for potential disasters in the future. But the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that only about $68bn has been raised during the first year. This is certainly a big sum, but it’s significantly less than was planned. Still, there are causes for optimism, especially coming from the private sector.
Some good news came from the World Bank Group as well, a family of five international organizations that make leveraged loans to developing countries, which offered $61 billion in loans to developing countries. The World Bank Group also said it will no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019. In exceptional circumstances, for the poorest of countries, some finance will still be offered, but only when there is a clear benefit in terms of energy access for the poor and the project fits within the respective countries’ Paris Agreement commitments, the statement reads. The WBG is on track to meet its target of 28% of its lending going to climate action by 2020, and is working hard to push its partners to stop financing and working with fossil fuel projects.
Insurance giant Axa also announced that it will cease to support the construction of coal plants and will withdraw about 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) from the sector. They made no promise about other fossil fuels, but they did say they will pull 700 million euros from projects linked to tar sands pipeline projects and put nine billion euros into “green” infrastructural investment through 2020.
A group of 200 other investors with more than USD 26.3 trillion assets under management, including the likes of HSBC and the major US pension fund CalPERS, have all agreed to put pressure on the most polluting companies in an attempt to force them to reduce their emissions. Oil giants such as BP and Chevron, as well as transport behemoths Airbus, Ford, and mining groups ArcelorMittal, BHP Billiton, and Glencore, are all targeted.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the European Commission each promised to offer over $300 million for agricultural research to combat the effects of climate change.
It’s a long and rocky road, which will require a lot action and a lot of effort, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. With or without climate change deniers.
Alexandra is a naturalist who is firmly in love with our planet and the environment. When she's not writing about climate or animal rights, you can usually find her doing field research or reading the latest nutritional studies.