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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, January 24, 2018


World leaders, sans Trump vow to do more on climate change

President Donald Trump remained missing in action

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PARIS, France - In a bid to do more in the battle against climate change, dozens of world leaders gathered at a summit in Paris on Tuesday. 

However, as the most notable world leader, U.S. President Donald Trump remained missing in action, after deciding to pull his country out of the 2015 Paris climate accord, the French President took the lead on the action plan. 

French President Emmanuel Macron delivering a sobering statement at the opening of the summit, and warned that the world is "losing the battle" against climate change.

At the summit, which is being co-hosted by the UN, World Bank and Macron is aimed at jump starting efforts to curb global warming.

The summit, being held on the second anniversary of the Paris climate accord, ratified by 170 countries - world leaders joined bankers, energy magnates, leaders of institutions, charities and businesses - gathered in the French capital to maintain momentum despite Trump's rejection of the Paris accord.

Sean Penn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Elon Musk are among prominent figures joining the world leaders at the summit, where participants are expected to announce billions of dollars' worth of projects to help poor countries and industries reduce emissions.

Macron, who has dubbed Trump’s withdrawal from the accord, "very bad news" and "aggressive" said in his opening remarks, "We're not moving quickly enough. We all need to act."

He said, the world was "nowhere near" being able to honour a pledge to keep temperatures rises to 1.5C to 2C, and the planet was heading for up to a 3.5C increase at present.

Earlier, in an interview in Le Monde newspaper, Marcon warned that without a "shock (shift) in our own production and development methods, we won't manage it.”

The summit was co-chaired by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and focused on how public and private financial institutions could stump up more funds and how to get corporate giants to embrace green policies.

According to reports, some 225 investment funds managing more than $26 trillion in assets pledged to pile pressure on the world's 100 largest corporate greenhouse emitters to curb pollution and disclose climate-related financial information.

World Bank President Jim Jong Kim said the bank would stop financing oil and gas projects within two years while the European Commission unveiled 9 billion euros worth of investments targeting sustainable cities, energy and agriculture for Africa and EU neighbourhood countries.

About 12 international projects, that will inject hundreds of millions of dollars were unveiled at the summit, in efforts to curb climate change.

Keeping a low profile

While Trump was not invited to the summit and the official delegation kept a low profile.

Meanwhile, some prominent Americans, who have insisted the U.S. remained committed to the Paris accord made appearances and included screen superstars Leonardo Di Caprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At the summit, the former California Governor said, "The United States did not drop out of the Paris agreement. Donald Trump got Donald Trump out of the Paris agreement."

Further, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that 38 states have legislation pushing renewable energy and 90 major American cities support the Paris accord, accounting for 80 percent of its population. 

He added, “We're going to stay on track.”

Even former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg shared his comments, saying the private sector coalition called "America's Pledge," that promises to honour goals set in 2015, "now represents half of the U.S. economy.”

Bloomberg added that he hoped Macron was right when he suggested he might be able to change Trump's mind, which was the mark of an "intelligent, courageous person.”

Trump, who has expressed scepticism about global warming, has argued that the Paris accord would hurt U.S. business. 

Trump has said that he wants the terms of the agreement renegotiated, a notion Macron has firmly dismissed.

The French President has said, "You have more than 190 countries as negotiators. I'm not ready to renegotiate with so many people, I'm sorry, around the table. The U.S. did sign the Paris Agreement. It's extremely aggressive to decide on its own just to leave, and no way to push the others to renegotiate because one decided to leave the floor. I’m sorry to say that. It doesn't fly." 

He said he would, however, happily welcome Trump back into the agreement should he reconsider his position.

Even U.K. Prime Minister, who was present at the summit, delivered a rebuttal to Trump’s claims that the Paris accord was bad for business. 

May said that the accord was a "historic agreement" that was "right morally but also economically.”

She said, "You don't have to choose between cutting emissions and growing an economy…We choose both."

Meanwhile, according to some French commentators, Macron was seeking to claim the mantle of the world's "Mr Climate.”

In an interview, Macron said he believed Trump's rejection of the Paris accord had conversely given his own movement "huge momentum."

He explained, “Today we have a momentum, because I think we have two phenomena; so withdraw of the U.S., which for me is a mistake, that equates an impulse for a lot of others to say, 'Okay, we have to react and do something.’ If we decide not to move and not change our way to produce, to invest, to behave, we will be responsible for billions of victims. I don't want to be a leader in such a situation, so let's act right now."

Commitments vs. Reality

Meanwhile, at the summit, developing nations warned that the rich were lagging with a commitment dating back to 2009 to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help their green transition.

Mohamed Adow, charity Christian Aid’s lead on climate change said, "The missing piece of the jigsaw is the funding to help the world’s poorer countries access clean energy so they don’t follow the fossil fuel-powered path of the rich world.”

Top officials opening the summit, however, 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.

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 said, "Financial pledges need to flow faster through more streamlined system and make a difference on the ground.”

Bainimarama added, "We are all in the same canoe," rich countries and poor.

Further, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono described ways Japan is investing in climate monitoring technology and hydrogen energy, but said "we have to do more and better."

Meanwhile, Brandon Wu, director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid USA said, "Despite the hype, the One Planet summit is delivering little for the world’s people who are the most vulnerable to climate change. Rich countries continue to pretend that new schemes for businessmen to increase their profits will be the centre of the solution for the poor."


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