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Paris climate summit opens with Bill Gates, but not Trump

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson Copyright REUTERS/Christophe Archambault/Pool
Copyright REUTERS/Christophe Archambault/Pool
By Natalie Huet with Reuters, AP
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World leaders and philanthropists are in the French capital to try to give new momentum to the fight against climate change, despite the US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord.


Two years after the landmark Paris climate accord, dozens of world leaders and philanthropists are back in the French capital on Tuesday for a summit where they are being urged to put their money where their mouth is - and help poorer countries deal with the impact of climate change.

French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting the "One Planet" summit on the two-year anniversary of the Paris climate accord, which saw nearly 200 governments agree to end their heavy reliance on fossil fuels and limit further global warming.

Yet developing countries say rich nations are falling short of their pledge to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help them switch from fossil fuels to greener energy sources and adapt to rising temperatures and increasingly erratic weather.

Macron is hopeful the world will rise to the challenge posed by the United States' decision, announced in June, to withdraw from the deal.

"The decision of President Trump just to leave the Paris agreement was the very beginning of a new story. And I do believe that to our collective chance, it created a huge momentum," Macron said on Monday evening.

"After his decision, we accelerated the ratification, we had more and more countries joining the club and ratifying the Paris agreement, it was a sort of big shock for a lot of people saying "Wow! it's the very first country to decide to leave the club. Now it is at risk."

Some 50 world leaders are due to attend the Paris meeting.

Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg champion the cause

The United States will send only an official delegation from the Paris Embassy, but superstar, Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as the governor of California Jerry Brown are due to attend.

Well-known philanthropists have also met with Macron at the Elysee presidential palace - from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The summit aims to focus on how public and private financial institutions can devote more money to fight climate change, and how investors can pressure corporate giants to shift towards more eco-friendly strategies.

"Financial pledges need to flow faster through more streamlined system and make a difference on the ground," said Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, whose island nation is among the most exposed to rising sea levels and extreme storms.

"We are all in the same canoe," rich countries and poor, he said.

In central Paris, environmental activists kept up the pressure with a demonstration calling for an end to all investment in oil, gas and non renewable resources.

In the race to use more renewable energy, most EU countries have increased their share of renewable energy sources in gross consumption.

Euronews took a look at how EU countries compare in their use of renewable energy between 2004 and 2015.

[The article was corrected on 15/12/2017 to remove references to Leonardo Di Caprio attending the summit]

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