What to Watch at Macron’s Climate Summit

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  • French president aims to keep alive work to curb fossil fuels
  • Carbon prices and transparency on climate risks on the agenda
What the U.S. Departure Means for the Paris Agreement

French President Emmanuel Macron hosts at least four world leaders, three mayors and the governor of California at an event in Paris on Tuesday aimed at breathing life into the global fight against climate change.

Companies from the software developer Microsoft Corp. to insurer AXA SA are announcing initiatives to help rein in pollution, and investors will join Bank of England Governor Mark Carney in seeking greater disclosure of climate-related risks. The event marks the second anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement, where almost 200 nations vowed to curb fossil fuel emissions.

Here’s what to watch:

Who’s Isn’t Coming

Expect to see some of the familiar faces seeking to tackle climate change, but equally interesting is who will stay away from the event. Not attending include China’s leader nor U.S. President Donald Trump, who is moving to encourage use of coal. Neither will German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is embroiled in talks to form a new coalition government that might be more friendly to fossil fuels than the last administration. Poland, which is hosting the next United Nations climate talks in the heart of lignite-mining country, also isn’t sending its leader. Is Macron expanding the environmental movement or preaching to those already converted?

Climate Finance

Macron’s ambition is to spur new funding for the environment, firming up a 2009 pledge by industrial nations to step up the flow of aid for climate-related projects in developing nations to $100 billion a year by 2020. The latest data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development put 2014 flows at $62 billion. A major source of cash is drying up as Trump vows to pull the U.S. out of the Paris deal. Look for hints that development banks, companies and investors could help to fill the gap.

To read why the Green Climate Fund Became a target of Trump, click here.

Carbon Prices

For decades, the UN has promoted putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions as a financial tool to curb pollution, yet the cost of permits has stagnated. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday he’s trying to convince other nations to help triple the carbon price. Macron wants a minimum price in the market. The European Union Commission opposes that measure and is looking to link its trading with emerging markets in places such as China and California. Maros Sefcovic, vice president for energy union at the commission, will air his views at the meeting.

Initiatives Announced

France will draw attention to at least 12 projects aimed at cleaning up emissions, and the European Commission has 10 of its own initiatives to discuss on how to modernize the region’s energy industry. The commission’s financial-services policy chief Valdis Dombrovskis will elaborate on how to mobilize private funds and bring in the 179 billion euros per year in investment needed to reach goals in the Paris Agreement. Almost 1,200 companies have aligned their policies with the Paris deal, and 118 have pledged to get all their power from renewables, according to the We Mean Business group. It counted commitments from 26 of the 100 top polluters and new pledges from 640 companies with a combined market value of $15.5 trillion.

Transparency Steps

Carney has been asked by the Group of 20 nations to lead the push toward making companies more transparent about the risks they face from climate change. Flanked by groups of investors and at least one insurance company, AXA SA, Carney is due to speak about his project and could outline both new supporters and sources of friction in his efforts.

— With assistance by Francois De Beaupuy, and Gregory Viscusi

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