“One Planet”: Promises and Perils

Stockholm (NordSIP) – The “One Planet” Summit held this week in Paris at the behest of France’s President Emmanuel Macron as a follow-up to the 2015 Paris Climate Accord (and deliberately staged to counter U.S. President Trump’s withdrawal from the treaty) has been, as intended, a forum for a number of announcements and imperatives to tackle climate change.

The event, which was attended by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and UN Secretary General António Guterres, had three stated objectives: “Adaptation, Mitigation, Mobilization”, under the banner of “taking action together” to mobilise financing for a clean energy transition.

Some of the main announcements at the Summit have included:

  • The World Bank, ING and AXA have committed to fossil fuel divestments amounting to billions of dollars;
  • A new fossil-free, actively managed bond fund from Norway’s Storebrand Asset Management, the second largest asset manager in the country;
  • A commitment by the UK to lead a coal-phase out and to support the poorest nations in in the world to address climate change;
  • A commitment by Canada to work with the World Bank to support clean energy transition in developing countries and small island states;
  • A new “Climate-Smart Zone” announced by Caribbean leaders;

alongside a number of others. Iceland has committed to make the country carbonless by 2040, thereby going further than the Paris Accord stipulations. “As a small nation with renewable energy we have great opportunities going further,” said the new Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who spoke at the summit. “There are other nations making such goals but our time schedule is ambitious and we are going to be five years ahead of our neighbours in the Nordic countries.”

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was also on hand to promote America’s Pledge, the effort by America’s states and cities to implement the Paris Accord despite the current federal government’s intentions. “I think we owe President Trump a bit of gratitude for helping us meet our climate goals,” he quipped.

Governments themselves have nevertheless come under fire for a lack of commitment to turn away from funding fossil fuels themselves. “This charade of caring about the planet can’t go on,” said 350.org. Senior Finance Campaigner Brett Fleischman. “[Discussing] shifting capital to climate solutions [is] all well and good on paper. But [governments] have remained largely silent on the other side of the equation: the ongoing financing of coal, oil and gas production and infrastructure. The continued parallel investment in both fossil fuels and climate solutions is folly to say the least.”

The criticism points towards a central contradiction in addressing climate change. Businesses and governments themselves can announce any number of measures to combat climate change and meet the emission reduction objectives set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Accord, but for as long as governments continue to subsidise the coal, oil and gas industries, the struggle to meet the objectives will remain an upward climb.

“We shouldn’t deceive ourselves,” President Macron told the summit. “[When] it comes to keeping the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius, we are in the process of losing the battle.”

President Macron has stated his intention to hold a ‘One Planet’ summit on an annual basis.

Image: (c) Strejman – shutterstock