Global finance must 'align' in climate change fight, says UK minister

by Ellen Wulfhorst | @EJWulfhorst | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Saturday, 7 March 2020 09:00 GMT

A worker inspects solar panels on the roof of a building in Santiago, Chile, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

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Minister leading COP26 climate summit calls for push to turn "billions into trillions" of dollars funding green growth worldwide

By Ellen Wulfhorst

UNITED NATIONS, March 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The world of finance must line up behind the fight against global warming, a top British climate change official said, calling for a concerted effort to turn "billions into trillions" of dollars driving the transition to a green economy.

From state aid agencies and international development banks to insurers and pension funds, tackling climate change can be a growth opportunity, said Alok Sharma, Britain's newly appointed business minister in charge of the COP26 U.N. climate summit.

The conference, to be held in Glasgow in November, is seen as critical to the success of the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which governments committed to cut their planet-heating emissions to limit global warming to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times.

"We need to unleash the finance which will make all of this possible and power the shift to a zero-carbon economy," Sharma told a briefing at the United Nations on Friday.

"From solar panels to electric vehicles to tree planting, it is often finance that turns good intentions into actions."

Sharma cited an estimate by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that nearly $7 trillion a year will be needed over the next decade to meet the Paris accord and the U.N.'s ambitious slate of goals to solve poverty, inequality, climate change and other global ills by 2030.

Wealthy nations must honor their pledge to raise an annual $100 billion in climate finance, from public and private sources, to help poorer countries adapt to a warmer world and pursue low-carbon development, he said.

"But to move from billions to trillions, we will need all finance to align with the Paris Agreement," he said.

"We have the opportunity to turn climate change into a growth opportunity for the global economy," he added.

Failure to act would lead to worsening droughts, heatwaves and crop failures, rising sea levels and more intense hurricanes, he warned.

"These events will put human life at risk. Lead to population displacement," he added. "It will devastate nature and biodiversity. And exact a catastrophic economic cost."

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the briefing: "We are in an unfolding climate emergency... We have a huge task ahead of us."

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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