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World leaders gather to breathe new life into Paris accord

In a luxury New York hotel that almost ruined Donald Trump in the 1990s, world leaders gathered Wednesday to try to revive the Paris climate pact that the US president has pulled America from.

The "One Planet Summit" is the second such event after it was launched by French President Emmanuel Macron and others last year, with the aim of accelerating the implementation of the historic 2015 Paris climate deal.

Macron told world leaders last year that "we are losing the battle" against climate change and urged faster action to combat global warming.

Yet 10 months later, despite a stream of announcements and summits -- including in Bonn in May, and Bangkok and San Francisco this month -- the front line in the climate war has hardly moved.

"Recent negotiations in Bangkok on the Paris Agreement's implementation guidelines made some progress, but not enough," Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of UN Climate Change, said on Monday.

"Nations are not living up to what they promised."

Such alarmism will abound at the next UN climate conference, to be held in December in Poland, which just this week approved the construction of a new coal power plant.

This year's One Planet Summit is at the Plaza hotel, which Trump bought in 1988 for $407.5 million before selling it at a huge loss in 1995.

The event coincides with the UN General Assembly, being held in New York at the same time.

About 30 presidents, prime ministers and ministers are due to attend, including from Spain, Denmark, Norway, China, as well as from small Pacific island nations whose coastlines are getting eaten by a rising ocean.

Billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg, a longtime Trump critic and unofficial candidate to run for the White House, has convened a business forum focused on the economy, the environment and the fight against poverty.

"Our success will be measured in the months and years to come," said Bloomberg, who has made the battle against climate change his primary cause.

During the day, participants will announce millions of dollars of new actions to "decarbonize" the world economy, help vulnerable countries and finance the ecological transition of developing countries, particularly in Asia and in Africa.

But these commitment only represent a tiny portion of what is needed to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as enshrined in the 2015 Paris accord.

Experts warn the global temperature is on track to surpass three degrees by 2100.

A study in the journal Nature this month found that even global temperature rises of two degrees Celsius could still be enough to melt parts of the largest ice sheet on Earth, in the Antarctic, and raise sea levels by several meters (yards).

- International backsliding -

Momentum for the Paris climate deal stumbled not long after it was signed.

Trump in June 2017 announced the US would pull out, effective November 2020.

Already, he has essentially abandoned targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, set by his predecessor Barack Obama, by slashing dozens of environmental regulations.

Australia, one of the world's worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters, has scrapped plans to enshrine targets for reducing carbon emissions into law.

And in Brazil, right-wing presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro has said he would pull the country from the deal if he is elected.

The agreement also stipulated that rich countries establish an annual $100-billion fund to help developing nations react to our heating planet.

But only $10 billion have been collected so far.

The United States had promised $3 billion and only gave $1 billion -- under Obama.
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