French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a bleak assessment on the global fight against climate change to dozens of world leaders and company executives on Tuesday, telling them: “We are losing the battle”.
“We’re not moving quickly enough. We all need to act,” Macron said, seeking to breathe new life into a collective effort that was weakened this summer when President Donald Trump said he was pulling the United States out of an international accord brokered in the French capital two years ago.
Modern-day science was revealing with each day the danger that global warming posed to the planet, he said.
“We are losing the battle,” he said, urging the assembled heads of states, ministers and executives to launch a new phase in the fight against global warming.
No internationally binding commitments will be made at Tuesday’s One Planet 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 $26 trillion in assets under management said on Tuesday 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 percent by 2030, for which it estimates around 180 billion euros ($212.2 billion) in additional low-carbon investments are needed per year.
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 $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 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 has sent 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 U.S.-based, to come and work in France.