France's Macron hunts for more money to slow climate change

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron will next week press rich countries to increase climate financing and urge investors worldwide to turn their backs on polluters in a bid to accelerate efforts to combat global warming.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference in Doha, Qatar December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

Tuesday’s “One Planet” summit takes place two years to the day since almost 200 governments agreed the Paris accord to end the fossil-fuel era this century and limit further global warming to “well below” 2 degrees above pre-industrial times.

U.S. President Donald Trump weakened the pact in June when he said the United States, the world’s second biggest greenhouse gas polluter after China, would pull out. “France will not give up the fight,” Macron responded at the time, taking a dig at Trump when he added: “Make our planet great again.”

Macron will want to show progress is being made toward meeting the Paris accord’s goals even after the U.S. exit. There will be a focus on how public and private financial institutions can mobilize more money and how investors can pressure corporate giants to shift toward more ecologically-friendly strategies.

“Money is the key to success in the fight against climate change. And not just public money,” said Matthieu Orphelin, a French lawmaker for Macron’s political party and a close ally of Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot.

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, particularly in Africa, are among the lowest polluters but the hardest hit.

An Elysee Palace official said 12 “concrete projects” would be announced at the summit. However, there will be no internationally binding commitments.


The summit may in part be judged by how far it can plug a $2 billion funding hole in the Green Climate Fund, which helps developing nations deal with climate change, as a result of the U.S. pullout, which takes effect in 2020.

“These losses will reverberate across the system. It’s not just the loss of public dollars, but also of the foregone private dollars they could have mobilized,” said Leonardo Martinez-Diaz of the World Resources Institute think-tank.

“Fewer emissions will be reduced and fewer people will be protected from the impacts of climate change.”

Developing nations say that the rich are not on track with a broader commitment in the Paris accord for wealthy economies to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 - from public and private sources alike - to help developing countries switch from fossil fuels to greener energy sources and adapt to the effects of climate change.

The trust and cooperation of developing countries would depend on how much they feel “those financial flows are building up to support their ambitions”, said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

France last month pushed back its own deadline by which it was to reduce nuclear power in its energy mix in favor of renewable energy sources, a blow to Hulot’s environmental vision.

“The least you expect from the country hosting such a summit would be to respect its own energy transition law, and to pave the way for the development of renewable energies,” Sarah Fayolle of Greenpeace told reporters.

Reporting by Richard Lough and Simon Carraud in Paris and Alister Doyle in Oslo; editing by Mark Heinrich