Macron’s moment to make the planet great again

A series of initiatives were unveiled at the "One Planet Summit" held in Paris
A series of initiatives were unveiled at the "One Planet Summit" held in Paris

Exactly two years after the signing of the Paris agreement, which aims to limit global temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius, French President Emmanuel Macron took the initiative to convene the One Planet Summit, which the United Nations and the World Bank co-sponsored.

In his opening remarks, the French President sent a clear warning:

"We are losing the battle" against global warming and climate change, he said. The international community is “not moving fast enough, and that's the tragedy”, “we all need to act because we all have the obligation to respond,” he told the audience, warning against a “permanent emergency” and what he labeled as “the challenge of our generation.”

“In 50, 60 or 100 years, five, ten or fifteen heads of government who are present today will not be there anymore ... [...] It is decided that they will disappear along with their populations", he cautioned again.

Though this summit is not a donor conference, participants pledged a host of financial commitments. The countries of the North have promised to put up 100 billion dollars per year which they would deliver by 2020. The funds are needed to help the countries of the South who are seeking assurances about those pledges meant to help them cope especially with the rising impacts of climate change, (dykes, weather warning systems, etc.).

Other measures were also announced at the Summit; The World Bank said it will no longer finance upstream oil and gas, after 2019. This is a first for a multilateral bank.

Emmanuel Macron did not spare US President Donald Trump, scorned for yanking out the United States of the Paris Agreement. “If we are here today, it is because many have decided not to accept the decision of the US federal government to leave the Paris agreement and have launched the “America's Pledge””, he said in a tribute to the coalition of US cities, companies, and environment civil society organizations that have sworn to respect, in their own way, the Paris agreements.

Succeeding in the rostrum, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who called on the world to act better to implement the Agreement, also bashed the US decision as “politically short-sighted, economically irresponsible, and scientifically wrong.”

The Presence of several African Heads of State, particularly that of the King of Morocco, who was flanked by Crown Prince, Moulay El Hassan, did not go unnoticed.

President Macron welcoming king of Morocco Mohammed VI and Crown prince Moulay El Hassan at the Elysee Palace  
President Macron welcoming king of Morocco Mohammed VI and Crown prince Moulay El Hassan at the Elysee Palace �]t�-h

It must be noted that it was in Marrakech that COP22 was held. That international meeting stood as an extension of the Paris Agreement by being the meeting of action and implementation. During the meeting, the King of Morocco established the Mohammed VI International Prize for Environment and Climate, a prize worth $ 1 million which will be awarded at each COP. Through this award, the Morocco monarch aims firstly to reward any innovative and high-impact action of climate change, but also to place youth at the forefront of the interest of public policies.

At the opening session of the summit, the moderator hailed the presence of Crown Prince, Moulay El Hassan, as “a strong symbol of the involvement of the youth" in the climate cause.

In his closing remarks, Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of a coalition of actors, the “One Planet Coalition", due to meet more regularly for “work sites”. Beyond the symbols, it is very important to know the concrete steps that will be taken. “The One Planet is not a summit where we will negotiate a declaration, but a summit attended by governments, civil society, sovereign funds, insurance companies, banks, companies, NGOs, scientists... That is to say all the actors of this transformation,” the French president said on Tuesday. In fact, a bunch of concrete commitments have been made: the Bill Gates Foundation pledged $ 315 millions to support agricultural research; the World Bank made a commitment to stop financing upstream oil and gas, after 2019; the insurer Axa promised to give up investing in any company involved in the construction of coal plants.

For the first time, philanthropists came together to finance and innovate on climate action. One trillion dollars in public and private funding will be mobilized.

Will that money be enough to save the planet? Only time will tell....

Ahmed Charai, a Moroccan publisher, is on the board of directors of the Atlantic Council, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for the National Interest.

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