Photo: Nicolas Hulot speaking at a previous Paris conference before becoming environment minister. Credit: A.D. McKenzie - Photo: 2017

France Puts Focus on Funding with ‘One Planet Summit’

By A.D. McKenzie

PARIS (IDN) – A day after the latest UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) began in Bonn, Germany, the French government upped the momentum by announcing concrete plans for its own “One Planet Summit” to be held December 12.

This summit will have more than 100 countries represented and will focus on financing to combat climate change, according to the organisers.

French officials said that “for the moment” U.S. President Donald Trump had not been invited, but that “numerous American players” who are mobilising for climate action will be present. In June, Trump announced plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, to international criticism.

At a November 7 briefing, the French government said that the summit was “necessary” to move forward with the Agreement – which entered into force November 2016 – and to achieve lasting solutions.

“If we don’t accelerate our efforts, we won’t reach the goal of 1.5 degrees,” said a spokesperson, referring to the aim of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, seen as essential for combating climate change.

The summit, which French President Emmanuel Macron first referred to publicly at a G20 meeting in July, is thus being put forward as a “meeting of action” with a “positive agenda” that includes contributions from various sectors.

Macron launched the slogan “Make Our Planet Great Again”(a re-wording of Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”) after Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal, and France has been appealing for both public and private sectors to become engaged in fighting climate change.

The government has accordingly reached out to a wide range of parties. In addition to national delegates, some 800 “non-state” participants will be at the summit, and the total number of those attending is expected to be around 2,000, said officials.

The president’s office said the government is working with the United Nations in the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the international treaty to limit greenhouse-gas emissions, under which the Paris Agreement falls.

The “partnership” also includes the European Commission and the World Bank, with the participation of Climate Action Network – an international grouping of about 1,100 non-governmental organisations working on climate and sustainability. Mayors from around the world and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are also involved.

The event is additionally meant to celebrate the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement, achieved during COP 21 in France in December 2015.

Officials said they expected new measures on financing to be announced at the summit, as well as the presentation of “transformative projects” by different sectors.

Funding to mitigate the effects of climate change, especially in developing countries, has been a thorny issue, so some states will be particularly keen to see if anything new results from the summit’s scheduled side events, especially “Climate Finance Day”, and “Climate Justice” talks.

In Bonn, where COP 23 is set to run until Nov. 17, funding is naturally on the agenda. “We need to move forward to fulfil the commitments that are due in 2020. In this regard, finance and pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions are key,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa on the opening day.

German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks meanwhile announced that her country would support the UN’s Adaptation Fund – established under the Kyoto Protocol of the UNFCC – with an additional 50 million euros this year. More pledges are predicted over the course of the conference.

Coming so soon after COP 23, however, the One Planet Summit may seem superfluous, according to some observers, while others stress that any initiative to advance climate action is good for the world.

Henri Landes, director general of the GoodPlanet Foundation, an NGO working in ecology and sustainable development, said he believes the summit is necessary.

“I think large philanthropic organisations can make contributions too to climate funding, and this is an opportunity,” Landes told IDN.

It is evident that France, whose overseas departments were among those badly damaged by recent hurricanes, wishes to be a global leader on climate issues, observers say.

French ecology minister Nicolas Hulot has announced several measures to cut emissions, for instance. By 2022, France plans to have stopped using coal for electricity and by 2040, the country intends to have phased out all vehicles that use petrol and diesel.

Several cities, including Paris, have long instituted bike-sharing and electric-car sharing schemes to reduce the use of private vehicles on the roads.

However, the intention to cut nuclear-generated electricity to 50 percent of the country’s energy mix from 75 percent, as announced under the Socialist government of former president François Hollande, shows little signs of being achieved quickly.

On the same day of the One Planet Summit briefing, Hulot told the media that the decrease would take 10 years longer than planned. France has 58 nuclear reactors, generating about 75 percent of its electricity.

Some French officials have considered this “green” energy, but after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, governments in Europe have been moving to limit their reliance on nuclear energy.

This issue, and how best to fund a new energy mix and direction, will be another topic for debate at the One Planet Summit. [IDN-InDepthNews – 9 November 2017]

Photo: Nicolas Hulot speaking at a previous Paris conference before becoming environment minister. Credit: A.D. McKenzie

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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