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Climate Action: The World Marches On Without Washington

Posted by Sara Gutterman

Dec 14, 2017 1:50:05 PM

French President Emmanuel Macron summoned global leaders this week to Paris for the One Planet Summit to discuss enhanced climate adaption, mitigation, and mobilization solutions and marshal funding—and a lot of it—for large-scale climate action deployment. Washington wasn’t invited.

At the recent United Nations COP23 climate talks, the world responded decisively to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement with an impressive show of solidarity and escalated commitment to climate action.

Rallying what he calls “counter-momentum” to equalize Trump’s dangerous climate policy, France’s president Emmanuel Macron seized the opportunity to elevate his leadership position on the global stage by inviting 50 of the most influential world leaders to Paris earlier this week for the One Planet Summit.  President Trump was notably excluded from the list of esteemed invitees.

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Touting the slogan “Make Our Planet Great Again,” the Summit brought together elected officials, business executives, and financers to discuss practical ways that the rest of the world—sans the Trump Administration—can continue to meet climate goals, with the primary objective of crafting a plan to provide public and private financing for climate initiatives around the globe.

Extraordinary commitments were made:

  • The World Bank Group will stop financing all oil and gas exploration and extraction in 2019.
  • ExxonMobil will cave into pressure from shareholders and begin disclosing details about “energy demand sensitivities”, including how climate change will impact its daily operations and long-term business outlook; how the company will respond to governmental measures to limit global warming; and how the company is preparing its operations for a low-carbon future.
  • Dutch bank ING will eliminate all investments in coal power generation by 2025.
  • AXA, the world’s third-largest insurance company, will reduce coal investments by $2.8 billion.
  • The Gates Foundation will allocate $300 million over the next three years to support farmers in Asia and Africa grappling with issues like diminished soil fertility, extreme weather, and crop pests.
  • The Hewlett Foundation will donate $600 million over the next five years to nonprofits working on climate change issues.

Paris was a natural setting for the event—France has been working assiduously to position itself as a leader in global climate action and governance.  Under Macron, the country has pledged to eliminate coal from its electricity mix by 2022, ban all petrol and diesel fueled vehicles by 2040, install 600 miles of solar roads within the next 5 years, and install green roofs for all municipal and commercial buildings.

Macron certainly isn’t the only European leader taking a strong stance on climate action.  In a recent interview with the Guardian, British Prime Minister Theresa May stated, "There is a clear moral imperative for developed economies such as the UK to help those around the world who stand to lose most from the consequences of man-made climate change. But by putting the UK at the forefront of efforts to cut carbon emissions and develop clean energy, we can also make the most of new economic opportunities. And by taking action to create a secure natural environment, we are fulfilling a duty we owe to the next generation."

The temperature in Washington for climate action may currently be tepid, but there is little doubt that external pressure from allies like Macron and May, in conjunction with internal pressure from Governors, Mayors, businesses, and voters throughout our great nation, will turn up the heat.  Let’s just hope that we don’t have to completely cede our leadership position and lose credibility between now and then.

Green Builder Media, in conjunction with Mayor Dyer and the City of Orlando, is hosting our own Sustainability Symposium to develop an actionable plan for smart, clean, efficient, and resilient solutions.  We invite you to join us at the Sustainability Symposium: Champions of Change on January 8, 2018 at the University of Central Florida campus in Orlando, Florida.  The event will directly and honestly confront the reality of climate change—the challenge of our generation, and the opportunity of a lifetime.

Click here for more information about the Sustainability Symposium 2018: Champions of Change.  Space is limited, to be sure to reserve your seat today! 

Got questions or ideas? Write to me at sara.gutterman@greenbuildermedia.com.

Want to read more?  Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.  For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit Green Builder Media at www.greenbuildermedia.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for regular updates and breaking news.

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