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World leaders, investment funds and energy magnates promise new money and technology to slow global warming

An environmental activist displays a placard as she protests at Pantheon monument in support of the Paris climate accord, in Paris PICTURE: Michel Euler/AP
By Angela Charlton and Sylvie Corbet

World leaders, investment funds and energy magnates promised on Tuesday to devote new money and technology to slow global warming at a summit that France's President Emmanuel Macron hopes will rev up the Paris climate accord that US president Donald Trump has rejected.

Mr Trump was not invited to the event but his name was everywhere.

One by one, top world diplomats, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, business leaders like Michael Bloomberg and even former US secretary of state John Kerry insisted that the world will shift to cleaner fuels and reduce emissions regardless of whether the Trump administration pitches in or not.

Central to Tuesday's summit is finding ways to counter Mr Trump's main argument: that the 2015 Paris accord on reducing global emissions would hurt US business.

Mr Macron, a 39-year-old former investment banker who is using this summit to seize the global limelight, argues that the big businesses and successful economies of the future will be making and using renewable energy instead of pumping oil.

Bill Gates and Elon Musk are among the 164 prominent figures at the summit, where participants are announcing billions of dollars' worth of projects to help poor countries and industries reduce emissions.

The summit, co-hosted by the UN, the World Bank and Mr Macron, is being held on the second anniversary of the Paris climate accord, which was ratified by 170 countries.

More than 50 heads of state and government are taking part.

Activists kept up pressure with a protest in the shadow of the domed Pantheon monument on Paris' Left Bank, calling for an end to all investment in oil, gas and resource mining.

That was not far from the message opening the summit.

Top officials agreed that the global financial system isn't shifting fast enough away from carbon emissions and toward energy and business projects that don't aggravate climate change.

"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 those on the front lines of the rising sea levels and extreme storms worsened by human-made emissions.

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

Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono described ways that Japan is investing in climate monitoring technology and hydrogen energy but said "we have to do more and better".

As the day progressed, announcements started rolling in.

A group of 225 investment funds managing more than 26 trillion US dollars in assets promised to pressure companies to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and to disclose climate-related financial information.

The group, which includes the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the largest US public pension fund, says it will focus on 100 of the world's largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters.

Financial institutions are using the meeting to highlight the need to ensure that their investments don't suffer from, or contribute to, the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and more extreme weather.

Mr Macron also hosted leading world philanthropists on Tuesday morning to encourage more climate-related investment.

Mr Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, says environmentalists owe Mr Trump a debt of "gratitude" for acting as a "rallying cry" for action on climate change.

Mr Bloomberg said the private sector coalition called America's Pledge, that promises to honour goals set in 2015, "now represents half of the US economy".

Mr Kerry told that many Americans remain "absolutely committed" to the Paris accord.

He said 38 states have legislation pushing renewable energy and 90 major American cities support the Paris accord fighting global warming.

Some 3,100 security personnel fanned out around Paris for Tuesday's event, including extra patrol boats along the Seine River.

Mr Macron will accompany the visiting leaders to the summit site on a river island by boat.

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