France must be a leader in the shift away from fossil fuels, says Green team

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A group of French politicians, lead by Green party presidential candidate Yannick Jadot are calling for an international non-proliferation treaty for fossil fuels, similar to an initiative created by Denmark. This comes as environmental activists from around the globe converge on Glasgow for the opening of the COP26 climate summit.

In an opinion piece published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche, six French politicians, lead by Green presidential candidate Yannick Jadot (EELV), called on France to stand up to energy lobbies, and reiterated their support for an international non-proliferation treaty on the use of fossil fuels.

Among the signatories were Green party members Sandrine Rousseau, Delphine Batho and Eric Piolle, who said it was time for "a new ambition" on France's environmental front, and pointed to other similar initiatives such as Beyond Oil & Gas, from Denmark and Costa Rica.

As the United Nations prepares to open the COP26 international climate summit on Sunday, the group insisted their message would be crucial as France prepares to take over the rotating EU presidency in January.

"Our challenge is to end the financing, exploration and exploitation of new fossil fuel sources, and step away from a logic which is only making the problem worse," they wrote.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), grants for fossil fuel industries represented 423 billion dollars each year in the world. Since 2019, these grants have increased by 22 percent.

The UN says less than 20 percent of spending for post-Covid budgets has been earmarked for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"France can lead the way, but the country is far off the mark for now," the French politicians continued, denouncing "the government's contempt for using energy in moderation."

"France can lead by example, moving away from conformist attitudes and complacency with regards to the lobbies which are only interested in short term gain."

Protests

Meanwhile, hundreds of activists rallied in Glasgow on Saturday to urge world leaders to act on climate change, in the biggest protests yet in the Scottish city ahead of the summit.

Police say about 10,000 officers from across the UK will be deployed each day during the summit, the largest policing operation ever held in Scotland.

Joining the activists was Swedish teen green icon Greta Thunberg, who arrived by train from London and was ushered from the platform and into the host city by a large police escort.

"Finally in Glasgow for the #COP26! And thank you for the very warm welcome," tweeted the 18-year-old, who on Friday had attended a small London protest against global banks, accusing them of destabilising the planet and putting many people's lives at risk.

Attendees came from far and wide, including several other European countries, with some having walked long distances, to voice their frustrations at the conference which runs until 12 November.

Earlier, demonstrators marched through the centre of Scotland's biggest city, holding placards bearing slogans such as "actions not words" and "stop fossil fuels".

They were led by members of the Extinction Rebellion direct action group, which has brought cities around the world to a standstill with its protest tactics and has vowed to do the same in Glasgow.

G20 leaders yet to find concensus

More than 100 leaders, including US President Joe Biden, are set to attend the summit, which opens on the heels of the G20 summit in Rome.

Hosts Italy are pushing the G20 to collectively endorse the UN goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, one of the aspirations of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accords.

But G20 members, many at different stages of economic development, remain at odds over the other major goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

A senior US official said elements of the final G20 statement "are still being negotiated", adding that the Rome summit was about "helping build momentum" before the UN climate talks.

At a gala dinner at his lavish Qurinale palace on Saturday evening, Italian President Sergio Mattarella urged leaders to act for the sake of "future generations".

"The climate change emergency looms over everything else," the 80-year-old said, adding: "The eyes of billions of people, of entire peoples, are upon us and the results we will be able to achieve."

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