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Climate Change Goes Forward, with or without the U.S.

Last month at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, climate change loomed large on the agenda. Government officials joined business leaders and investors in realizing that sustainable business ventures were a $12 trillion opportunity and that investing in fossil fuels was not the way to go.

Announced at Davos was the new Green Digital Finance Alliance, a group bringing together financial institutions using digital technology to advance green finance in lending, investment and insurance. According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Norway sponsored a fund to raise $400 million by 2030 supporting  deforestation-free tropical agriculture investments. Norway committed to contribute up to $100 million. As a major part of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP21) last year in December, almost 200 nations agreed to phase out fossil fuel use during the second half of this century. Reducing dependency on fossil fuels is essential to lessen the occurrence of floods, heat waves and droughts, and to slow rising sea levels. One of the main COP21 agreements was to create a clear line to secure funding earmarked for climate change efforts.  Funding sources targeted to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and for climate-resilient development are tracked by IISD.

Just recently European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer announced that the EIB would provide $100 billion in loans over the next five years to fund programs supporting green and sustainable development. Also, last week Sweden announced they would phase out GHG emissions by 2045 and become a totally fossil-fuel-free welfare state, one of the most ambitious goals among developed countries. Even though COP21 is still the planet’s major force to slow climate change, many are uncertain about the direction the U.S. and the Trump administration will take on climate change. Trump campaigned to withdraw from the COP21 accord, although no action by the White House has been taken. Trump’s EPA nominee, Myron Ebell, wants to ultimately dissolve the EPA. Last week Ebell spoke at an event in Brussels and called climate experts “urban imperialists.”

Other countries, believing the U.S. will step back from its agreement last year in Paris, are siding with China to take on climate change. China, as well as India, have large investments in solar and wind power.  Countries such as Germany, Britain and France are attempting to be a part of those business investments. Planning to meet with top China officials next month  (March 2017) is EU’s top climate diplomat Miguel Arias Canete, who is expected to discuss a shared “cap-and-trade” system, which would, in essence form a platform for cooperation.

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