In late 2015, the Paris COP 21 brought together heads of state from all over the world with climate negotiators, including such emblematic figures as Laurent Fabius, Christiana Figueres and Laurence Tubiana, in a city that was still traumatised by recent terrorist attacks. The meeting culminated in the Paris Agreement, which signatories undertook to limit global warming to 2°C and reduce the use of fossil fuels worldwide.
To mark the anniversary of this historic agreement, President Macron has invited back nearly one hundred heads of state to attend the One Planet Summit on 12 December 2017. This summit, hoped for and sponsored by the Elysée, is being organised with the United Nations and the World Bank in order to put both public and private finance at the heart of climate action. “ClimActs” will echo through a day-long event dedicated to, “Scaling-up finance for climate action”, “Greening finance for sustainable business”, strengthening policies and increasing the action of cities and territories.
Three senior ministers have joined forces for this cause: Bruno Lemaire for financial affairs, Nicolas Hulot for ecological and solidarity transition, Jean-Yves Le Drian for North-South dialogue and, last but not least, Anne Hidalgo as Chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of cities cooperating on climate-related issues. The impulse provided by the One Planet Summit has led to a strong mobilisation of financial players that will find expression through a series of events organised on December 11 and 13 in Paris. Partners one and all, their mission is to speed up efforts in driving the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Energy transition and economic development
Climate Finance Day, the flagship event of the French initiative, Finance for Tomorrow, bringing together the country’s most committed stakeholders, will take place during the afternoon of 11 December at the Ministry of Finance under the dual sponsorship of Nicolas Hulot and Bruno Lemaire. Decisively international, this afternoon event will welcome a number of personalities, including the Chinese star of green finance, Ma Jun, the former head of the People’s Bank of China, and Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO of BNP Paribas, the first global bank to have ruled out the financing of non-conventional oil (shale gas, oil sands, etc.). His op-ed published on LinkedIn develops the idea that energy transition and economic development have become one and the same. It is one of the most visible signs of change in the world of finance.
Climate action by private finance must occur in cooperation with action by public finance. This is why “Mobilisation!” will take place at the Ministry of Finance on the morning of 11 December. This event, sponsored by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Climate Action in Financial Institutions initiative, which brings together development banks on the issue of the climate, aims to answer the following question: “Two years after COP 21, how has the financial industry, both public and private and from North and South, tangibly incorporated climate considerations?". The initiative has already taken advantage of COP 23 in Germany to launch a call to action and give visibility to its database of 50 climate mainstreaming practices that put climate at the heart of financial management.
Need for an educational approach
Other events, labelled "side events of the One Planet Summit", such as the Novethic Annual Event on 13 December will be organised during this period. Dedicated to sustainable finance in Europe, this event will trace a link between this the unprecedented mobilisation around the climate, major responsible investors’ long-standing practices and the steps taken by the European Commission, including the creation of a high-level group of experts.
Without doubt, the commitment of finance is crucial. Especially because of the agility of the sector that can sweepingly refocus its business toward financing a low carbon economy more easily than others. The decision to grandly celebrate the second anniversary of the Paris agreement in the capital that gave birth to it is just that: speeding up the redirection of financial flows and put the financial world on the pathway to a two degrees warmer world limit by the end of the century.
Reaching this goal requires to intensify efforts to raise awareness among the financial and corporate sectors, economic and political decision-makers and citizens. The tipping point is 2020. Now is the time to act. The common efforts and action that the One Planet Summit and its side events hopes to bring about could help swing the balance the right way. However this means sending a strong and clear message, otherwise there is the risk that the French will remember only the inconveniences of security measures and rerouted traffic in the City of Light.
Anne-Catherine Husson-Traore, CEO of Novethic, @AC_HT_