France's Hollande concerned about slow progress in climate talks

by Reuters
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 18:37 GMT

French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech during the "Business and Climate Summit 2015" at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

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French president also calls on financial sector to "decarbonise" its investment portfolios

* Top European CEOs meet to discuss climate in Paris

* Hollande worried about lack of progress to December UN meeting

* Royal warns climate crisis will lead to more refugees

* Fibria CEO: companies should not go in the red to be green (Adds quotes, details)

By Alister Doyle and Geert De Clercq

PARIS, May 20 (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande said he was worried about a lack of progress towards a United Nations climate deal in Paris in December and called on the financial sector to "decarbonise" its investment portfolios.

Hollande said on Wednesday that only 37 of 196 U.N. member states had so far submitted plans to the United Nations outlining their actions to slow global warming beyond 2020. The plans are meant to be the building blocks for a deal in Paris.

"I note and I am concerned that at the moment I am speaking there are only 37 submissions," Hollande told the Paris Business and Climate conference, where global chief executives are discussing how industry can help fight climate change.

"The contributions should in theory be submitted this summer," he added.

He said developed nations should lead. Japan and Australia are the two biggest developed nations that have yet to submit, while the United States, the 28-nation European Union, Russia and Canada are among those that have done so.

The United Nations has set a deadline of Oct. 1 for submissions to give time to add up the offers from all countries as part of a deal in Paris in December to see how far they will work to rein in rising temperatures.

"Ideally there would be an agreement well before December," Hollande said. He said it was hard to get a single nation to agree a climate policy and likened the difficulties of a global deal to a "miracle".

Hollande also called on the financial industry to decarbonise its investment portfolios and boost the issuance of green bonds to finance investment in renewable energies.

"We have a number of expectations for the financial industry, not yet requirements, but expectations," said Hollande, who called finance his enemy during his 2012 election campaign.

EMISSION TARGETS

He said a decarbonisation coalition set up during a New York UN summit last year had already led to $45 billion of decarbonisation commitments.

He said all industrial sectors need to set targets to reduce emissions, by boosting the share of renewables, cutting reliance on fossil fuels and by reducing the use of water and commodities in their production processes.

At the summit, seeking to promote action by businesses, many speakers urged a higher price on carbon dioxide to put pressure to cut emissions from burning fossil fuels.

"We know who the enemy is, this is carbon," said Angel Gurria, secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. "We should hit it on the head with a blunt instrument as hard as possible ... a big fat price."

Still, Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive of French oil major Total, said the world needed more energy for a rising population. "I am in favour of renewables," he said, adding many people would still depend on Total's fossil fuels.

Others said that a transition to a cleaner economy had to be profitable. "A company to be green should not be (in the) red," said Marcelo Strufaldi Castello, CEO of pulp and paper group Fibria.

Segolene Royal, France's minister of ecology, warned of worsening risks from climate change, saying heatwaves, floods and droughts could undermine crop growth.

"Today already there are three times more climate refugees than there are people fleeing armed conflict," she told the conference. By some estimates, she said Africa could have 50 million climate refugees by 2060. (Editing by William Hardy and David Holmes)

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