PARIS (Reuters) - 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.
Macron, who has worked to establish his role as a global leader since his sweeping election win in May, said 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 a new phase in the fight against global warming.
France announced a raft of 12 non-binding commitments, from a $300 million pledge to fight desertification to accelerating the transition toward a decarbonized economy. But there was no headline promise likely to reassure poor nations on the sharp end of climate change that they will be better able to cope.
Public and private financial institutions pledged to channel more funds to spur the transition to a green economy and investors said they would pressure corporate giants to shift toward more ecologically friendly strategies.
Among the commitments, 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 (COAL.NS), Gazprom (GAZP.MM), Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (600028.SS).
The European Commission, meanwhile, said it was “looking positively” at plans to reduce capital requirements for environmentally-friendly investments by banks in a bid to boost the green economy.
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.
On Tuesday, the European Commission announced 9 billion euros worth of investments targeting sustainable cities, sustainable energy and sustainable agriculture for Africa and EU neighborhood countries.
Yet the United Nations Environment Programme says the cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries could rise to between $280 billion and $500 billion per year by 2050.
“Despite the hype, the One Planet summit is delivering little for the world’s people who are the most vulnerable to climate change,” said Brandon Wu, director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid USA.
“Rich countries continue to pretend that new schemes for businessmen to increase their profits will be the center of the solution for the poor.”
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.
Reporting by Richard Lough, Leigh Thomas and Mathieu Rosemain in Paris, Alister Doyle in Oslo and Francesco Guarascio in Brussels; Editing by Richard Balmforth, Larry King