The opportunities of climate action are enormous
Paris Europlace International Financing Forum
Statement of Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
April 15, 2019
Mr. Chairman, Cher Augustin de Romanet,
It’s a great pleasure and privilege for my team and for me to be here with you this morning on this special occasion and I’d like to start by thanking Paris EUROPLACE and its new Chairman Augustin de Romanet, whom we are so lucky to have in this position, not only for organizing this important Forum here in New York but also for his much appreciated remarks and leadership, with a special word of thanks also to our friend Arnaud de Bresson for his tireless work and commitment.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as emphasized by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres it is hard to overstate the urgency of the situation : climate change is accelerating, not receding, it is already a matter of life and death for many and an existential threat to all of us. I can also tell you, seen from my perspective at the Security Council, that the geopolitical risks associated with climate change are growing stronger every day and already fueling war across the globe.
But conversely the opportunities of climate action are enormous. That’s what this conference is all about. With this “think positive” attitude in mind, there are three main points I would like to make today.
1. First of all we now have a solid and predictable international framework with respect to green and sustainable finance.
Let’s not forget that the UN sustainable development goals, the SDGs, are the first pillar of this framework. There is a quiet revolution happening at the UN with the SDGs, in which climate change is a key element, and the challenge is now to make sure that we together spread the word and that this revolution with the SDGs is embraced by the real world, by you, by the investors and the companies.
The COP21 is clearly the second pillar – and in many respects the backbone- of this international framework I am referring to.
The success of the COP21 -that I had the privilege of participating in- in Paris, in 2015, was a first feat – bringing close to 200 nations together. Frankly this was French diplomacy at its best – and here you recognize the long tradition of French modesty…
A second feat was its entry into force at a record speed – one year, which is unprecedented according to UN standards. Today the Paris agreement is ratified by 185 countries – which makes it one of the most universal agreements ever.
Now is the time for the implementation of the Paris Accord. Last December in Katowice, Poland, the COP24 adopted what we call a “rule book” – a sort of guide if you wish – to fully implement the Accord.
But if we want to succeed we need to have everybody onboard : the traditional state and non-state actors, but also the business community and investors. This is another revolution. And that’s what the One Planet Summit is all about : this is the third pillar of our international framework.
The One Planet Summit was founded in 2016 by President Macron together with the United Nations and the World Bank to mark the first adoption of the Paris Agreement – and President Macron co-chaired last month in Nairobi its third edition.
The One Planet Summit is unique in that it precisely brings together coalitions of states, international organizations, investors, companies and other civil society players committed to concrete and innovative actions in the fight against climate change as well as for biodiversity and renewable energies. Climate finance is front and center in this initiative and it was indeed at the three One Planet Summits that a number of investors’ projects were announced.
II – So with the SDGs, the Paris Accord and the One Planet Summit, we now have a stable, strong and predictable international framework with respect to green and sustainable finance. What is the next step in my world, the UN world ? Well the next step is about enhancing the ambition of our efforts, for one simple reason : climate change is still running faster than we are.
This is the objective of the climate action summit that will take place on September 23 at the UN here in New York. This will be another milestone event. To make a long story short, the upcoming summit will challenge states, regions, cities, investors, companies and citizens to step up action in nine areas of the real economy : the energy transition, climate change and pricing, industrial transition, nature-based solutions, cities and local communities, resilience and adaptation, ambition and mitigation, political and social issues, mobilization of civil society and in particular youth.
For each of these nine areas the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has tasked an ad hoc coalition of countries and organisations to lead and mobilize the international community. The summit will not be a long accumulation of speeches. It is designed to boost action based on concrete projects from States and the private sector.
Antonio Guterres tasked President Macron to lead the coalition on climate finance, together with the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Emir of Qatar and with the support of the World Bank and Michael Bloomberg – in his capacity as the UN Secretary General special envoy on climate.
So our experts are working as we speak on concrete deliverables for the upcoming September Summit on climate finance. This is another reason why we attach such importance to your conference today.
The Action Plan on climate finance that President Macron is going to present at the Climate summit in September has two main objectives :
The first is to scale up international climate finance to reach the objective of 100 billion dollars in investments for developing countries by 2020. To do that we need to replenish and grow the Green Climate fund, enhance blended finance and mobilize the multilateral development banks ;
The second objective is to align financial flows and public policies with low greenhouse gas emissions goals and climate-resilient development, which is what this conference will be discussing today. The work of the Task Force on Climate related finance disclosure, the TCFD, will be critical in this area.
On the regulatory front, there are also countries that adopted finance disclosure obligations. France, for instance, required extensive climate change-related reporting for asset owners and asset managers through its 2015 Energy Transition Law.
III – In the race we are engaged into to win the battle against climate change, and to seize the huge economic and financial opportunities that go with it, investor engagement is front and center. It is the key to success.
Let me share two figures from the UN, for what they’re worth : on the risk side, failure to act decisively against climate change would cost the global economy up to 21 trillion dollars by 2050 ; on the opportunity side, climate action could create 24 million jobs for the global economy by 2030.
Investors are instrumental in a successful transition to a low carbon economy for obvious reasons. Let me mention three of them here. Firstly because investors play a critical role at every level of the economy, including to promote innovation and reduce dependence on fossil fuels for example.
Secondly because the financial industry is providing innovative and effective data and tools in this area. For instance, the green bonds market is growing faster than anyone expected – and this is just an example among many. We’ll hear from speakers on this topic later.
Thirdly investors have a multifaceted approach, that includes pressuring companies to transition to a low-carbon economy and disclose their risks.
On a more personal note, given the strategic importance to get investors on board, in 2015 I began to organize and host at the French UN Mission an informal but structured “Investor Dialogue” with the New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and California State Controller Betty Yee in particular.
These private, completely off the record meetings with many of the world’s largest and most engaged investors and their fiduciaries allowed us to discuss climate related risk management and investment opportunities.
I continue this serie of meetings, which are extremely productive and were credited in a Bloomberg article last week by Ann Simpson of Calpers for launching the Climate Action 100+. I can only encourage you to read this Bloomberg piece.
The “Climate Action 100+” was announced during the One Planet Summit and brings together global institutional investors with more than USD $32 trillion assets under management to coordinate their actions with the 100+ largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters worldwide.
The success of the Climate Action 100+ could be seen with BP’s and Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to disclose how their investments align with the Paris Accord under the TCFD.
Here, I find extremely encouraging to see how the investment community is embracing the Paris Accord with new investment strategies, investment products and a push for more disclosure on strategy and climate risk.
I want to commend all of you for that, with a special word of appreciation for the strong commitment to this goal by the Banque de France and the French banking and financial and insurance industry, of which many distinguished representatives are with us this afternoon.
I hope I have conveyed how each of us in this room plays a part in making sure we achieve the objectives of the Paris Accord. I can only assure you that France is putting energy, talent and resources to make it happen, which has made the sustainable finance ecosystem in the Paris Financial Center one of the most innovative and attractive worldwide today. And for that Paris Europlace’s role is truly instrumental.
So my warmest thanks to each and every one of you. You can count on me – and more importantly you can count on President Macron’s strong commitment to green and sustainable finance./.