To fill the climate finance deficit, French summit looks at its governance

Bill Gates is expected at the Climate Summit in Paris. [Will Oliver/EPA]

Adapting rules instead of pledging millions: two years after the Paris Agreement, the fight against climate change has changed strategy. EURACTIV France reports.

The climate summit to be held on 12 December seems to confirm a change of approach in global climate change action initiated at the COP21 in Paris. Rather than pushing heads of state to pledge billions and abstract sums, the Paris Climate Agreement encourages all stakeholders to mobilise.

Citizens’ initiatives against unambitious states are multiplying, and coalitions of cities or businesses are taking leadership.

About fifty heads of state, 4,000 participants, and 1,000 journalists are expected in Paris. But it is especially representatives of the private sector who will make the headlines: Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Leonardo Di Caprio.

“It will be an important summit to release concrete solutions and develop the instruments of climate finance,” said a source in the French Presidency.

A climate summit in Paris to compensate for the lack of European ambition

The French summit aimed at regrouping and bolstering climate ambition, two years to the day after the finale of the COP21, is gradually taking shape. EURACTIV France reports.

“We must instil organisational changes, it is the only way out of the impasse,” said Pascal Canfin, head of WWF France.

And it is also the only cheap tool left after the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement left a serious hole in climate finance.

The promise by developed countries to provide €100 billion in climate finance per year to developing countries has been further weakened since the world’s largest economy withdrew from the negotiations.

The OECD estimated that some $43 billion was allocated to the fight against climate change in 2016, but NGOs dispute this figure, which they estimate closer to 20 or 30 billion.

By adding the national contributions of the member states, the European Investment Bank and its own, the European Commission estimates that the EU contribution will be worth €20.4 billion. A low figure in absolute terms, and especially when compared to what’s needed, but the largest contribution from developed countries by far.

Climate finance, the sticking point in COP23

Rich countries had pledged to raise $100 billion each year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020. As of September 2017, they had pledged just $10.3 billion. And the question of who should pay remains unanswered. EURACTIV reports from the COP23 in Bonn.

“Private finance must take over. Especially since the funds exist; we just have to reorient them,” said a spokesperson for DG Climate.

For this, the EU has a project: forcing the finance sector to systematically report on the climate impacts of its investments. The legislative proposal to this effect should be proposed by the Commission by next March.

The experience has already been tried in France, and the task force for climate disclosure set up by the European executive has convinced the Commission to generalize the experience.

At the Paris summit, the Commission plans to unveil a roadmap integrating all EU initiatives that will be taken in this direction, and which should be validated at the European Council in March 2018. A “paradigm shift” aimed at directing investments as a priority towards climate action.

In France, where this measure was already implemented, the climate assessment of investments shows we are on track for a world several degrees warmer.

It is hoped this increased transparency would give a signal to investors to choose green projects.

The European Parliament is pushing for the prudential capital controls of banks to be reviewed and corrected under the impact of climate investments.

“Green” investments would have a higher de facto profitability if it were not necessary to keep a portion of the capital as collateral against these investments.

Green finance group calls on EU to stop funding fossil fuels

A group of financial experts has set out their vision for hardwiring sustainability goals into the European Union’s financial system, calling on 28-country bloc to stop pouring public money into polluting fossil fuels and focus spending on clean energies instead.

NGOs also advocate for the law to change, starting with the constitution. France is already planning to convene its constitutional congress in the first half of 2018 for other modifications; the fight against global warming could be included in the constitutional text on this occasion, and the announcement will be made on 12 December.

This goes beyond symbolism but would have a legal impact. In France, the law forbidding hydrocarbon research was examined by the Council of State, which found that climate protection was not enshrined as a general interest of the country in its legal corpus.

The One Planet Summit should also end with a dozen concrete commitments on coalitions around specific themes or projects. But “the expected conclusions will be short,” warned the French presidency, trying to avoid the pitfall of endless debates.

France bans production of hydrocarbons

French Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot proposed on Wednesday (6 September) a bill to end the modest production of hydrocarbons in France, hoping to lead by example. EURACTIV’s partner Ouest France reports.