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The Planet is fine?

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Two years to the day after the Paris agreement was signed, over 50 world leaders and hundreds of ministers gather again in the capital of France. They will discuss concrete solutions to reduce global warming, and most importantly, to boost investment in clean energies.

The planet is getting warmer, especially the Arctic, where temperatures rise faster than anywhere else and ice melts practically in front of our eyes. The transition to clean, non-polluting energy sources is underway, but if the world leaders want to limit the average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, they need to act quickly. The French President Emmanuel Macron, who is hosting the Summit, announced that “without much stronger mobilisation, a boost to our means of production and development, we will not succeed.”

Trillions of dollars of investment are needed to achieve the goal set by the Paris agreement, and the former UN chief Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of funding the world’s poorer countries. These countries are still developing and need a lot of financing, and if they don’t have enough access to clean energy, they might turn to fossil fuels and other greenhouse-gas producing energy sources. The funding by the developed countries was one of the main topics of the recent climate talks in Bonn, but no negotiation involving money moves fast, so the investment issue was put on ice so far.

To meet global climate goals, over 6 trillion of dollars is needed annually until 2030, and so far, governments have only committed 100 US$ billion per year. That means that mobilising the private sector is essential to bridge the climate finance gap. That is why this summit brings together a range of stakeholders in the fight against climate change – not only the heads of states but also company bosses, environmentalists and civil society representatives.

Before the summit, the World Bank Group announced it will no longer support the oil and gas industry after 2019. By 2020, 28 percent of its lending will be going to climate action.  

Almost every nation from the 195 that adopted the climate plan two years ago launches green initiatives to support the cause. Although the Irish minister for Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten accepted that there was still “a lot to do”, he proudly listed the country’s achievements: the national support scheme for renewable heat, a ban on smoky coal, and supports for the adoption of electric vehicles.

France has put in place a financial-transactions tax to fund its environmental policies and today will push for a European financial-transactions tax.

Theresa May is expected to announce a plan for new global Zero Emission Vehicle Summit that will be hosted in the UK in Autumn 2018. Moreover, last month, during the COP23 Climate Summit in Bonn, the UK and Canada jointly launched a Past Coal Alliance. 30 countries and regions have already signed up and today the British Prime Minister will officially welcome new members – Sweden, California and several large businesses.

Sounds promising, and still, it was not enough to ignore the fly in the ointment – the USA. The US President Donald Trump was left out in the cold and was not invited to the Summit on global warming. His decision in June to withdraw from the Paris agreement caused indignation of all the Paris accord signatories. This is not the first time the US has backed out of a climate accord – in 2001, Washington did the same with the Kyoto treaty. Mr Trump, after calling climate change a “hoax”, also announced that the US was not going to fulfil its climate finance commitments.

Still, even after such a definitive statement by Mr Trump, Emmanuel Macron remains optimistic. He is sure that “his friend” will change his mind and when that happens, the French president will be “ready to welcome him”. Let’s hope that Mr Macron is not chasing rainbows because after China, the USA is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet.

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