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France's Macron Urges Europe to Fill Climate Funding Gap

  • Lisa Bryant

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP) climate talks in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 15, 2017.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called on Europe to fill a funding void left by Washington's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Macron was among world leaders speaking at a climate meeting in Germany that has left Washington isolated.

Macron said European governments and the private sector must ensure funding for the main U.N. scientific body, known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He also called on nations to accelerate their energy transition, and said France would close all its coal plants before 2022.

Rich nations have imposed their universe on the world, Macron said of greenhouse emissions — it is forbidden to impose the tragedy it may create, he added.

France and Germany are leading the push to accelerate emission cutting promises reached by world leaders in Paris two years ago. This latest meeting in Bonn aims to draw up the rules for executing the 2015 climate pact, aimed at limiting global warming to under two degrees Celsius from 1990s levels.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrive for the opening of the High-Level Segment of COP23 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, Nov
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrive for the opening of the High-Level Segment of COP23 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, Nov

New findings show the world already has reached the one-degree mark. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said his recent visit to Caribbean islands devastated by hurricanes provided him with a glimpse of what the future could hold.

"Floods, fires, extreme storms and droughts are growing in intensity and frequency and are increasing everywhere," he said. "Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are higher than they have been for 800,000 years. Climate change is the defining threat of our time."

Speaking on behalf of African nations, President Ali Bongo of Gabon said his continent was paying the price for rising CO2 emissions, as rising seas swallow up its coastlines and threaten agricultural production and food security.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are at the bottom of the mountain," he announced. "And we must dare to climb it, rather than continuing to hope that the rising floods will not reach us."

A protestor holds a sign demanding to end coal burning during the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP) climate talks in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 15, 2017.
A protestor holds a sign demanding to end coal burning during the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP) climate talks in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 15, 2017.

With Syria joining the Paris climate pact this week, the Trump administration is now alone in opposing it, although it cannot fully withdraw from the agreement for several years. Macron is hosting another Paris summit next month, and so far he hasn't invited President Trump.

Washington has sent a small delegation to Bonn, but hecklers booed an event hosted by the White House that defended the continued use of fossil fuels.

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