Global Climate Economy Conference begins in Paris

Global Climate Economy Conference begins in Paris

An unusual optimism hangs over Paris as well, with hundreds of world leaders, bankers and climate activists gathering. They are here for a two-day conference called the new Bretton Woods.

Reference is to a meeting held in New Hampshire in 1944. diplomats were beaten Monetary institutions for the reconstruction of countries after World War II – World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Now, the goal is to rebuild those systems to face an impending crisis: poverty and the threats of climate change.

“We do not need to choose between the fight against poverty and the fight for climate and biodiversity,” French President Emmanuel Macron argued last year.

Many believe a new international monetary system could be created, which would provide financial assistance, not more severe debt, to developing countries facing the climate crisis.

On Wednesday, on the eve of the summit, 13 world leaders including President Biden published a public letter About 40 newspapers, including Le Monde, said they were determined to “build a new global consensus” and that the summit would mark a “decisive political moment”.

There is also anxiety. Some worry that the summit could prove to be just another grandiose summit hosted by a leader who relishes his self-appointed role as multilateral consensus builder and disruptor – but does not always deliver results.

“The French president is interested in international initiatives, except that he has been president for more than six years and his energy and confidence are gone,” said Cecile Duflot, director general of the poverty-fighting group Oxfam in France. The summit should have concrete promises of debt relief, not just “discussion”, he said.

“Today when you have 62 countries paying more on debt payments than on health care, it is clear that we are in a dysfunctional system,” Ms Duflot said.

The conference grew out of ideas not from Mr. Macron, but from the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley.

Last November, Ms Motley drafted a proposal for financial reform to take the stage from the UN climate change summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, known as COP27. He and his team called it the Bridgetown Initiative.

Ms. Motley described financial systems created three-quarters of a century ago as “imperial,” as they were established before many of the world’s countries became independent. He called for a sea change so that developing countries, which are most affected by the disaster of climate change – and are already facing a debt crisis – can access capital to address poverty and damage, and build greener economies. Pay for your transition to the economy.

“Yeah, it’s time for us to visit Bretton Woods again,” Ms. Motley said.

The response was spectacular, if unexpected: IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva supported the need for reforms. Mr Biden’s special envoy for climate, John Kerry, announced he was also involved. The chief executive of Bank of America did the same.

Mr. Macron, who has already hosted international summits Biodiversityprotection of the oceans and forests, was also impressive. The project seemed a natural fit for the president of the country hosting the Paris Climate Agreement, and his announced soon A summit in Paris to move forward on some of the proposals.

There are many things on the agenda that Ms. Motley has called for: using public money to leverage large-scale private investment for developing countries; increasing those countries’ access to financial assistance from the IMF; and allowing countries to suspend payments on international debts after climate-related disasters.

German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz and Chinese Premier Li Qiang will be among those in attendance. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will do the same.

“In the eight years I’ve been campaigning, there has never been anything like this – this type of head of state with the political will to make profound reforms to the architecture of international finance,” said Daniel Bois, a campaigner for the advocacy group Voices.

Just five years ago, discussion on World Bank reform would have been taboo, said Lawrence Tubiana, chief executive of the European Climate Foundation and one of the architects of the 2015 Paris Agreement. But since then, the economic condition of many of the world’s developing countries has deteriorated significantly, he said.

Ms. Tubiana said of Macron, “We need political leadership, and he is prepared to do that because he understands all of these issues.” “I hope he really looks for a legacy on that.”

The summit is being attended by heads of state or top ministers from nearly 80 countries, including leading world economies and smaller, indebted countries already suffering from climate change-related impacts such as Guinea-Bissau, Haiti and Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines.

Last week, Mr. Macron’s team reminded that the event is not for concrete announcements, but to pave the way for agreements at subsequent gatherings, notably the World Bank and IMF annual meetings, the G20 summit, the next UN climate change conference Easy to do. and the General Meeting of the International Maritime Organization, which is under pressure to tax emissions from the shipping industry.

“If it gets a lot of support here, and then is actually agreed upon at the IMO summit in July, that’s a huge deal,” Mr Bowes said. “Three years ago, we would have celebrated at the climate conference for such an outcome.”

Many activists coming to the city say they are glad to see more seats at the table for leaders of the global south, and President Macron has used his powerful office to push the offer of Ms. Have done Motley. But they are lobbying to add more controversial issues to the agenda, notably taxes on the fossil fuel industry, as well as taxes on the super-rich who live jet set lives.

“Climate finance is great, but if we don’t stop the fossil fuel industry, it’s just a Band-Aid solution,” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a climate justice campaigner from the Philippines, a country regularly hit by typhoons. . “I grew up scared of drowning in my own bedroom.”

Patience Nabukalu came from Uganda, where French oil company TotalEnergies is financing oil wells and an 870-mile East African crude oil pipeline. The project has been regarded by its opponents as a “carbon bomb” and a potential threat to the drinking water of the 40 million people living around the basin of Lake Victoria. The Macron government has quietly supported the project.

Ms Nabukalu, 25, said: “Let them prove us wrong to think that these are just empty promises, but show that they are true by coming forward and calling for the project to be stopped.” “There will be no finance reform while you are still there.” financing fossil fuel projects.”

aurelian breeden and Juliette Guerron-Gabrielle contributed reporting.

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