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French President Holds Climate Finance Summit on 2nd Anniversary of Paris Treaty

On December 12, on the second anniversary of the signing of the Paris Climate Treaty, French President Emmanuel Macron held a climate finance summit in Paris. The New York Timescoverage of the lackluster event began, “Money was on everybody’s mind….”

Many of the dim stars of the climate glitterati attended, including United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, British Prime Minister Theresa May, California Governor Jerry Brown, Michael Bloomberg, and Bill Gates. The Trump administration signaled the importance in which it holds the “Paris process” by sending the charge d’affaires from the American embassy in Paris. He took quite a lot of abuse, but I expect he got a good lunch out of it.  

Many announcements of future plans were made, but as Haitian President Jovenel Moise observed, according to the Times, that rich countries are far behind in keeping their commitments to provide funding to poor countries. Moise was referring to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which was first suggested by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama in 2009, at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-15) in Copenhagen. The GCF was officially established at COP-16 in Cancun in 2010.

The GCF commits developed nations, beginning in 2020, to provide at least $100 billion a year in new aid to developing countries to help them pay for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and adapt to climate change. Funding commitments to the Green Climate Fund have so far been modest, but perhaps President Macron’s summit will shake loose more money for climate aid. The Obama administration sent $2 billion to the GCF without congressional appropriation. The Trump administration has not asked for the money back, but has made it clear that the U. S. will not provide any more money to the GCF (unless of course the Congress appropriates it, which President Trump opposes).

Fiona Harvey in The Guardian reported on one specific commitment: “French insurer Axa, the world’s third-largest insurance company, said it would divest €2.4bn in coal assets and €700m in tar sands assets, and put in place a new policy of not investing in companies with more than 30% of their power or revenues from coal, or planning to build more than 3,000MW of coal-fired electricity generation.” I guess that means Axa could be investing in the new coal-fired power plant being built in Germany, which will produce 1050 MW.