Environment First Look

World leaders and investors ramp up efforts to fight global warming at climate summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, along with the United Nations and the World Bank, hosts the One Planet Summit on the second anniversary of the Paris climate agreement, allowing world leaders to discuss and invest in solutions to global warming.

People walk past the entrance to the One Planet Summit in Paris on Dec. 12. World leaders gather at the summit to discuss how to lessen global warming.
Michel Euler/AP
  • Angela Charlton and Sylvie Corbet
    Associated Press

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

Mr. Trump wasn't invited to the event but his name was everywhere.

One by one, top world diplomats, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, business leaders such as 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 is finding ways to counter Trump's main argument: that the 2015 Paris accord on reducing global emissions would hurt US business.

Mr. Macron – a former investment banker who's using this summit to seize the global limelight – argues that the big businesses and successful economies of the future will be making and using renewable energy instead of pumping oil.

Bill Gates and Elon Musk are among the 164 prominent figures at the summit, where participants are announcing billions of dollars' worth of projects to help poor countries and industries reduce emissions.

The summit, co-hosted by the United Nations, the World Bank, and Macron, is being held on the second anniversary of the Paris climate accord, which was ratified by 170 countries. More than 50 heads of state and government are taking 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.

That wasn't far from the message opening the summit: Top officials agreed that 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 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 are using the meeting to highlight 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.

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

Mr. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, says environmentalists owe Trump a debt of "gratitude" for acting as a "rallying cry" for action on climate change. Bloomberg said the private sector coalition called "America's Pledge," that promises to honor goals set in 2015, "now represents half of the US economy."

Mr. Kerry told The Associated Press that 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.

Some 3,100 security personnel fanned out around Paris for Tuesday's event, including extra patrol boats along the Seine River. Macron will accompany the visiting leaders to the summit site on a river island by boat.

On Monday, Macron awarded 18 climate scientists – most of them based in the US – multimillion-euro grants to relocate to France for the rest of Trump's term.

The "Make Our Planet Great Again" grants – a counter to Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan – are part of Macron's efforts to counter Trump on the climate change front. Macron announced a contest for the projects in June, hours after Trump declared he would withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was once labeled the 'climate chancellor' for her efforts to curb global warming, faced domestic criticism for failing to attend the summit.

Meanwhile, in the Dutch city of The Hague, experts launched a plan Tuesday aimed at addressing threats created by problems such as water and food shortages. It called for the United Nations to create a special "climate security" envoy and urged better coordination on international migration issues.

It also demanded action to counter food shortages in Africa's Lake Chad Basin, security issues in Mali and water management in Iraq.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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