Mobilize the Private Sector to Avert a Climate Crash
By Emmanuel Macron and Andrew Holness
Dec. 2, 2018 4:29 p.m. ET
Wall Street Journal
The 24th annual United Nations Climate Change conference begins Monday in Katowice, Poland. We have a formidable task before us. New data show that climate change may be even worse than we thought when the Paris Climate Agreement was ratified three years ago. Our objective is to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and down to zero by 2050.
The world only has a few years to change course. The planet is on track to heat up 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. This could raise sea levels by more than a meter and—coupled with increased coral bleaching events—render some islands unlivable. Extreme droughts, floods, wildfires and famine will occur with increasing frequency across the globe, threatening population centers like San Francisco, Bombay, Ho Chi Minh City and Abidjan. Climate change could also cause the migration of more than 140 million people worldwide.
In September, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres gave our two countries a mandate to accelerate “climate finance”—investments that will promote green energy, mitigate the impact of climate change, and help the most vulnerable countries adapt. Our aim is to mobilize public and private actors to provide additional funding and develop solutions to the climate crisis.
While government leadership on climate is essential, 70% of world economic activity is in the private sector. Humanity’s ability to correct course depends on how quickly companies adapt. The ones that will thrive in the long run are those that innovate green solutions and create jobs for a low-carbon future.
The One Planet Summit initiative, launched December 2017 in Paris, shows how a coalition of state and nonstate actors can build more-resilient societies. An example of its success: the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator, which has gathered 27 countries and 40 global companies to help fund renewable energy projects in the Caribbean.
In July, the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund Initiative also made significant progress. Six of the world’s largest asset owners, representing more than 3% of financial markets, published a set of principles they are using to factor climate issues into their investment decisions. This has increased demand for a commercial response to climate change across the investment chain.
In the coming months, we call on governments, the global business community and financial executives to work with us to help build on these successes with three objectives in mind: First, mobilize public investments in combination with private capital flows to support vulnerable countries and communities. Second, ask companies how they manage climate risks while anticipating the opportunities of a low-carbon future. Third, promote standardized methods for climate-related disclosure and investment decision-making.
The private sector must be prepared to get in the front seat with world governments to avert a climate crash. In September 2019, major government and corporate leaders will convene for another U.N.-sponsored climate conference in New York. Let’s seize this opportunity to help land planet Earth safely.
Mr. Macron is president of France. Mr. Holness is prime minister of Jamaica.