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|24 October, 2018

WGES 2018: Developed countries must contribute financially to help developing nations tackle climate change, says former French President

François Hollande told the World Green Economy Summit that the financial sector needs to integrate climate change notions into policies

French President Francois Hollande speaks at a press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin, Ireland, July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

French President Francois Hollande speaks at a press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin, Ireland, July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne - RTSJ0KO

Rich countries have a responsibility to contribute financially to help poorer nations tackle climate change to prevent the ‘disastrous impact’ of them following old, unsustainable development models, the World Green Economy Summit heard.

In a one-to-one sessions at the World Green Economy Summit, which opened in Dubai today (Wednesday) the former French president spoke frankly about the ‘disaster’ of the USA withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was signed in 2015 during Mr Hollande’s presidency.

Referring to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw, he referred to it as a ‘very negative development’.  

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“That is a disaster,” he said. “Its impact has not been felt quite yet, because its effects will be felt later in the future. A few countries have followed in the USA on this path, but in the USA, many states and towns have actually continued to increase efforts to fight against climate change.”

The financial sector and companies have a role to play, he said, and that a key part of the Paris Agreement was for international investors, including banks and bankers to integrate the ‘climate dimension’ into their investments.

“If they don’t act well, and they destroy the environment they will be penalised by taxation or different sanctions, also because they will create so much disaster within the economies that there will losses of production and lost growth, and especially will be so much degradation of lifestyle.

“It is very important in all these studies of investor behaviour that the financial sector must integrate all these climate change notions within their general policies.”

Mr Hollande also said despite the Paris Agreement’s commitment to reduce CO2 emissions to keep the global temperature increase this century at 1.5C, reduced from 2C, he said CO2 emissions had actually increased globally since 2015.

In addition, he said a commitment made at the Paris summit for developed nations to provide financial assistance to developing countries in tackling climate change had not been met, which he said could have a ‘disastrous impact’.

“One of the commitments of the Paris Agreement was to create a fund of $100 billion (US) per year to help developing countries tackle climate issues. However, this fund was not put in place.

“Therefore during COP24, which will take place in in Poland [in December], southern [developing] countries will most likely express their disappointment about the lack of this fund. 

“The richest countries, developed countries, Northern countries understand what is at stake here,” he added.

“If they do not make this financial contribution, developing countries will copy the same model used by developed countries in the past, which will have a disastrous impact, therefore it’s important to help developing countries carry out development in a sustainable model.

“If there is one call or one thing to say, it’s that it’s very important that developed countries take into account the fact that they are accountable for the creation of the necessary funds.”

Mr Hollande had some positive words to say about efforts made to tackle climate issues in some parts of the world. “China has carried out a revolution in its economy. Sincerely I can state that China is doing its best to follow up on its commitments,” he said. “But has China managed to get rid of its coal? Well, China is continuing to finance coal mines and coal facilities in Africa.”

European countries were also seeking to reduce their reliance on coal, the most polluting and widely used fossil fuel, he said, with ‘very important decisions’ being taken in some European states regarding renewable energies.

“When it comes to countries in the Gulf, in the Dubai administration, there is a will to create a green economy and there is a will to prepare for change and transformation towards a green economy,” he said, later adding that regarding renewable energies, ‘the example of Dubai is very interesting’.  

France was working to tackle its own heavy reliance on nuclear energy, he said, which currently stands at 70 per cent, but he had committed during his presidency to reducing it to 50 per cent.

“This was decided in order to make an effort on the renewables,” he said.

“In Dubai one source of energy that is very present here which is gas, and therefore one might be tempted to not make any effort on renewable energies. In France, the main source of energy is nuclear, so if we maintain a significant share of nuclear energy it means that we are not working hard enough on renewable energies.”

“Furthermore the price of a kilowatt hour of nuclear energy compared with renewable energy is more or the less the same, but it is necessary to increase the share of renewable energy and reduce the share of nuclear energy.”

Level of energy consumption was also important said Hollande, who said: “The best energy is the one that you do not use,” acknowledging that it was important for people to be able to retain their lifestyles and living standards, however, industries, such as the automobile industry, need to play their part in reducing CO2 emissions.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; Editing by Michael Fahy)

(Imogen.lillywhite@refinitiv.com)


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