French President Emmanuel Macron’s One Planet Summit seems to have gone off without a hitch on Tuesday in Paris, and the flood of announcements that have poured out of the event have shown a lot of willingness to commit to tackle climate change, but eyebrows are being raised at the seeming lack of commitment by governments to turn away from funding fossil fuels.
Held in Paris on Tuesday, the One Planet Summit — hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, along with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and UN Secretary General António Guterres — sought to “address the ecological emergency for our planet by calling together in Paris international leaders and committed citizens from around the world” on the two-year anniversary of the historic Paris Climate Agreement to discuss how to mobilize financing for the clean energy transition.
The Summit boasted “3 goals, 1 commitment: taking action together.” Those three goals were “adaptation, mitigation, mobilization.” Global leaders from government and business came together “to find new means of financing the adaptation of our ways of life to inevitable transformations, of further speeding up the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and of ensuring climate issues are central to the finance sector.”
And, if we were to judge the success and impact of the Summit based solely off my workload today, it would seem to have been a raging success:
- World Bank, ING, & AXA Announce Fossil Fuel Divestment Worth Billions
- UK Vows At One Planet Summit To Lead Coal Phase-Out & Support World’s Poorest Address Climate Change
- Powering Past Coal Alliance Membership Blows Out Past 50
- World’s Space Agencies (Sans US & Russia) Propose New Space Climate Observatory On Eve Of One Planet Summit
- Canada Teams Up With World Bank To Support Clean Energy Transition In Developing Countries & Small Island States
- Caribbean Leaders Launch Ambitious “Climate-Smart Zone” At One Planet Summit
And that’s only a smattering of the news which has been bouncing around today in the wake of the Summit.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 12, 2017
However, through all the announcements there is one topic that seems to be missing, and that is any mention by any of the governments attending of their own intention to step away from relying on and supporting fossil fuels. There were a number of business divestment announcements and a significant number of calls and promises to increase climate funding — especially in regions where such funding is most necessary.
But there wasn’t a lot of talk of governments ceasing their support and reliance upon fossil fuels, a point highlighted by grassroots climate movement 350.org Senior Finance Campaigner, Brett Fleishman, who said on Tuesday that “this charade of caring about the planet can’t go on.”
“President Macron and other world leaders are meeting right now to discuss shifting capital to climate solutions which is all well and good on paper,” Fleishman continued in a statement issued on Tuesday. “But they 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 fossil fuels and climate solutions is folly to say the least.”
I don’t necessarily agree with Fleishman that we can call the One Planet Summit a charade — though I understand the benefit of a good headline as well as the next writer. The announcements by ING and AXA are especially worthwhile of attention and praise at this point — though that is primarily because I believe that it won’t be governments leading the way, but the private sector, which likely ties into Fleishman’s point. Despite all the strong commitments made by the private sector over the past few years, the necessary targets can’t be met without strong support from the world’s governments as well.
Fleishman’s primary point is summed up by the recent call from a group of more than 80 world-leading economists “for an immediate end to investments in new fossil fuel production and infrastructure” and a parallel “dramatic increase in investments in renewable energy.” The Not A Penny More declaration was specifically published in advance of the One Planet Summit and was backed up by a mass mobilization of hundreds of people at the Place du Pantheon to reinforce the economists’ call.
Businesses and non-state actors cannot do enough on their own, even if we can credibly say they are doing a lot. Governments — both federal and state — from all over the world must band together to elevate their goals. More than setting goals, however, governments need to wipe out coal so that we can step back onto a level playing field.