Macron’s Climate Summit Draws Pledges to Make Coal a Risky Bet

Some of the world’s biggest investors turned their backs on U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to revive the coal industry, pledging to divest from fossil fuels at a conference organized by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The One Planet Summit in Paris was designed to galvanize support for the two-year old Paris Agreement that’s struggling to make headway after Trump vowed to pull the richest polluting nation out of the pact involving almost 200 countries.

Companies and governments announced plans to shun fossil fuel investments and to funnel money instead toward cleaner technologies including wind and solar farms. About 60 heads of state and government attended, including ones from Britain, Spain, Mexico, Morocco, Tunisia, Poland and Portugal.

The actions announced Tuesday signaled that “betting on Trump to change the direction of world energy is pretty risky,” said Nick Mabey, who used to advise the U.K. government on climate issues and now runs E3G, a policy-research group. “It’s a clear signal that the balance of risk is to bet against fossil fuels,” he said in a phone interview.

Some of the most significant announcements to come from the one-day summit include:

  • French insurer AXA SA pledged to divest from coal and tar sands companies, as well as end insurance for new coal plants, and quadruple green investments to 12 billion euros ($14 billion) in 2020.
  • The World Bank Group said it would stop financing upstream oil and gas projects from 2019. It had a $2.3 billion loan book in the industry in 2015, and its support made major projects possible in nations from Brazil to China and India.
  • Dutch bank ING Groep NV said it would speed its withdrawal from financing companies in the coal sector.
  • Storebrand ASA pledged to expand fossil fuel-free funds with a new $1.3 billion green bond program.
  • Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the number of companies pledging to increase financial reporting standards to fend off risk from climate change has doubled in five months. His Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures was created at the request of the Group of 20 nations before Trump took office.
  • A group of 225 global investors with $26.3 trillion of assets under management including HSBC Holdings Plc and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System said they will publish an annual assessment of how some of the world’s biggest producers of greenhouse gases are reducing emissions and limiting their exposure to climate risks.

Macron, who is seeking to lead the world in saving the Paris Agreement, said the summit showed how many companies and countries “don’t accept” Trump’s decision to exit the accord.

“Today’s summit is a new stage in our collective battle, but we are losing the battle,” Macron said at the meeting. “Every day we know a little bit more about the seriousness of what’s happening.”

As summit host, France said it will:

  • Set a new target to help finance projects to help developing nations adapt to climate change will be 1.5 billion euros a year in 2020
  • Study an increase of the European carbon price in some sectors, alongside Germany, Netherlands, the U.K. and Sweden
  • Ensure all French public bodies guarantee their activities are in line with the Paris goals

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