French President leads efforts to shore up ’fragile’ Paris Climate Accord

World leaders, investment funds and energy magnates have promised to devote new money and technology to slow global warming at a summit in Paris that President Emmanuel Macron hopes will rev up the Paris climate accord.

US president Donald Trump, who has rejected the accord, was not invited but his name was much discussed.

One by one, top world diplomats, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, business leaders like Michael Bloomberg and even former US secretary of state John Kerry insisted that the world will shift to cleaner fuels and reduce emissions regardless of whether the Trump administration pitches in or not.

Central to Tuesday’s summit was countering Mr Trump’s main argument that the 2015 Paris accord on reducing global emissions would hurt US business.

Mr Macron, a 39-year-old former investment banker, argues that the big businesses and successful economies of the future will be making and using renewable energy instead of pumping oil.

"The (Paris) agreement is fragile ... we’re not moving fast enough," Mr Macron said.

"It’s time to act and move faster and win this battle" against climate change.

Mr Macron’s office announced a dozen international projects emerging from the summit that will inject hundreds of millions of dollars in efforts to curb climate change.

The projects include a program for eight US states to develop electric vehicles, an investment fund for the hurricane-hit Caribbean and money from Bill Gates’ foundation to help farmers adapt to climate change.

"The United States did not drop out of the Paris agreement. Donald Trump got Donald Trump out of the Paris agreement," Mr Schwarzenegger said.

The projects also aim to speed up the end of the combustion engine to reduce the emissions that contribute to global warming.

With that aim, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced that his agency would stop financing oil and gas projects in two years, except in special circumstances for very poor nations.

The summit, co-hosted by the UN, the World Bank and Macron, was held on the second anniversary of the Paris climate accord, which was ratified by 170 countries.

More than 50 heads of state and government took part.

Activists kept up pressure with a protest in the shadow of the domed Pantheon monument on Paris’ Left Bank, calling for an end to all investment in oil, gas and resource mining.

Top officials agreed with them, saying the global financial system isn’t shifting fast enough away from carbon emissions and toward energy and business projects that don’t aggravate climate change.

"Financial pledges need to flow faster through more streamlined system and make a difference on the ground," said Fiji’s prime minister Frank Bainimarama, whose island nation is among those on the front lines of the rising sea levels and extreme storms worsened by human-made emissions.

"We are all in the same canoe," rich countries and poor, he said.

Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono described ways that Japan is investing in climate monitoring technology and hydrogen energy but said "we have to do more and better."

As the day progressed, announcements started rolling in.

A group of 225 investment funds managing more than 26 trillion US dollar in assets promised to pressure companies to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and to disclose climate-related financial information.

The group, which includes the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest US public pension fund, says it will focus on 100 of the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters.

Financial institutions at the meeting highlighted the need to ensure that their investments don’t suffer from, or contribute to, the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and more extreme weather.

Mr Macron also hosted leading world philanthropists on Tuesday morning to encourage more climate-related investment.

Mr Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, said environmentalists owed Mr Trump a debt of "gratitude" for acting as a "rallying cry" for action on climate change.

Mr Bloomberg said the private sector coalition called "America’s Pledge", that promises to honour the climate goals set in 2015, "now represents half of the US economy".

Mr Kerry said many Americans remain "absolutely committed" to the Paris accord.

He said 38 states have legislation pushing renewable energy and 90 major American cities support the Paris accord fighting global warming.

AP


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