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Investors turn back on fossil fuels at Paris climate summit

Emmanuel Macron delivering his speech at the event

Paris, France | AFP | Major investors vowed Tuesday to move away from Earth-warming fossil fuels as world leaders met in Paris seeking to unlock new cash to save humanity from climate “doom”.

Two years to the day since 195 nations sealed the Paris Agreement to avert worst-case-scenario climate change, banks and companies announced billions of dollars of intended divestment from coal, oil, and gas at a finance-themed climate summit.

But conference host France, as well as the UN and World Bank, said efforts to shift the global economy into a green energy future were too little, too slow, as a report warned that melting Arctic ice will trigger extreme weather worldwide.

“We are losing the battle,” against climate change, French President Emmanuel Macron told delegates. “We are not moving fast enough.”

For his part, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said continued subsidies of fossil fuel amounted too humanity “investing in its own doom”.

“We are in a war for the very existence of life on our planet as we know it,” Guterres told more than 50 heads of state including Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto, Britain’s Theresa May and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, at the summit called by Macron.

– ‘Damning vote of no confidence’ –
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said unprecedented Arctic warming — twice the planetary rate — was the “new normal”, and will have global consequences.

“The Arctic has traditionally been the refrigerator of the planet,” said Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic Research Program.

“But the door to that refrigerator has been left open.”

The Paris Agreement, which took more than two decades to negotiate, seeks to limit average global warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

Under it, countries have pledged non-binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of oil, coal, and natural gas.

US President Donald Trump has rejected the deal, calling climate change a “hoax”, and vowing to restore jobs in the fossil fuel industry.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim announced to loud applause Tuesday that the lender would “no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019”.

Greenpeace hailed the move. “The World Bank -– as one of the world’s most powerful financial institutions -– has sent a damning vote of no confidence to the future of the fossil fuel industry,” said campaigner Gyorgy Dallos.

French insurer Axa said it would speed up carbon sector divestment, pulling 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) from companies which derive more than 30 percent of their revenues from coal.

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