French president calls for global alliance of political leaders, businessmen and NGOs ahead of UN Paris conference
By Sophie Yeo
Tackling climate change will take a show of unity similar to that seen in Paris following recent terrorist attacks, according to French president Francois Hollande.
“The fight against climate change is also a question of solidarity,” he said, speaking at the World Economic Forum at Davos. “Without solidarity there will not be an effective answer from Paris.”
The French capital, where world leaders took part in an historic march to demonstrate their unity after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, will host the UN’s climate conference in December.
Heads of state and government are expected to gather to sign off a global agreement, designed to keep the world below 2C of warming.
Hollande, France’s first Socialist president to attend this annual gathering of the wealthy and powerful, highlighted that failure in Paris would have a disproportionate impact on the world’s poor.
“We are faced with a moral responsibility, a political responsibility, because a botched solution to a crisis might result in exacerbating the consequences of climate change,” he said.
But he pointed out that it was not just a question for politicians, and he urged business leaders to join a “Paris alliance against climate change” in order to finance the transition towards a green, low carbon economy.
“It is absolutely essential that the lifeblood of the world economy is fully involved in developing a response to climate change,” he said.
Hollande particularly emphasised the role of the private sector in raising the $100 billion a year by 2020 that developed countries have pledged towards helping the poor reduce their emissions and adapt to the changes that global warming will impose.
The French government has so far made one of the largest donations – $1 billion – to this Green Climate Fund, which just exceeded its $10 billion target for the end of 2014. But public funding will not be enough if the world is going to reach its much larger 2020 goal, said Hollande.
He promised a year of outreach between the government, NGOs and business ahead of the conference in December.
“I’ve come here to urge you to participate in this alliance. We need huge investments of capital,” he told a packed room of leading investors, businessmen and politicians.
“On the one hand you need to create a demand, capital ready to be invested; on the other hand the opportunities that would be part of this new green economy.”
Central to this will be a carbon price, which Hollande said was essential to creating the stability that investors need to start financing a cleaner world, and helping to overcome the doubt and instability created by the dramatic drop in the price of oil.
“You might say the drop in the oil price will be an impediment to the understanding of a gradual phasing out of fossil fuels, but if you ask me I think the opposite is the case,” he said.
“The drop in the oil price creates an opportunity for investment because what we can do is make the investments that are absolute essential in the energy transition.”