World leaders met in Paris Tuesday seeking to unlock more money to drive the global economy’s shift to green energy, exactly two years after signing a global pact to avert worst-case-scenario global warming.
Without trillions of dollars invested in clean energy technology, the Paris Agreement’s goal to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels will remain a pipe dream, participants warned.
“While the challenge is great, we must do everything in our power to meet it. We know it is the difference between life and death for millions of vulnerable people around the world,” said Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji who presided over UN climate talks in Bonn last month.
“There are trillions of dollars sitting in private investment institutions… and they are all looking for opportunities to earn a return. We must unlock that finance,” he told delegates.
About 200 protesters gathered in the Paris streets, meanwhile, demanding that France pays “not a single euro more for fossil energy”.
Mankind’s voracious burning of oil, coal and natural gas is blamed for planet-warming greenhouse gases that have caused the average global temperature to rise by about 1 C to date.
On current emissions trends, the world was on course for warming of 3 C, experts warn, with life- and asset-threatening super storms, sea-level rise, floods and droughts the result.
Trump, who has described climate change as a “hoax”, has withdrawn billions of dollars in climate finance — including an outstanding $2 billion out of $3 billion the US, under his predecessor Barack Obama, had pledged towards the Green Climate Fund.
Macron Tuesday called for “much stronger mobilization” by remaining partners. “We are very far from the goal of the Paris agreement of limiting the rise in temperatures to below a two-degree threshold,” he told Le Monde newspaper.
UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa warned political action “will not be enough if we do not update and reset the global finance architecture and make all development low-emission, resilient, and sustainable”.
Money has long been a sore point in the UN climate process, with developing nations insisting on aid to ease the costly shift to less-polluting energy sources, and to shore up defenses against climate-change induced weather disasters.—Agencies