In the closing days of the COP23 international climate summit in Bonn, Europe is showing that it’s not all talk when it comes to pushing back the rising tides.
Following on from German Chancellor Angela Merkel declaring that “climate change is an issue determining our destiny as mankind,” French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that Europe will fill the enormous funding gap in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), one that was left by the US’ withdrawal.
“They will not miss a single euro,” he said to rapturous applause.
The IPCC, which is generally considered to be the global authority on the science of climate change, used to receive $2.4 million from the federal government. Upon announcing that the US will withdraw from the Paris agreement in 2020 – the earliest possible date – major payments to climate funds, including the IPCC, were canceled.
“The fight against climate change is by far the most significant struggle of our times,” Macron told the gathered audience. He also spent some time highlighting how these man-made phenomena affect the poorest the most, adding that “climate change adds further injustice to an already unfair world.”
During the same speech, Macron pledged that France’s coal power plants will all be closed by 2021.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel at opening of #COP23 high level segment : “We have come here today because we are facing the definitive challenge for humanity. #Climatechange will determine our fate” pic.twitter.com/S3LugSDl0P
— UN Climate Change (@UNFCCC) 15 ноември 2017 г.
Macron has come out strong for climate advocacy. Apart from ensuring his own government is phasing out fossil fuel exploration and production as quickly as possible, he’s also successfully poached key climate scientists from the US with funding offers.
He’s even set up his own climate summit. Its inaugural night will be later this December, something that many heads of state have been invited to with the notable exception of the President of the United States of America.
Although far from being the perfect climate ambassador – coal production is still far too high – much of the European Union (EU) has endeavored to make climate change a top issue. Earlier this year, it was announced that many countries, including France and Germany, would bypass the White House and work directly with states and businesses in America to deal with the issue.
A vote by the EU also paved the way to making the Paris agreement legally binding, and strong partnerships with China to drawdown their greenhouse gas emissions has been launched.
The contrast with the US couldn’t be more extreme. America is now the only country in the world to reject the Paris agreement after a shocking late ratification by Syria. Its academics are being suppressed, fired and bullied, and their funding is being cut dramatically.
Although a rebel alliance of pro-Paris American lawmakers was present at COP23, the official US delegation only made one presentation – one that suggested coal was a solution to climate change.