Potter Gives Statement on Climate Change at ILO Conference

USCIB Senior Counsel Ed Potter is currently attending the International Labor Organization (ILO) International Labor Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland (June 5-16) as a U.S. employer delegate. The ILC is discussing pressing global issues such as women at work, application of labor standards, peace and stability, migration and climate change.

Potter delivered the following statement on June 12 during the 2017 Plenary Statement on the Director General’s report on behalf of business regarding climate change and the Paris Agreement:

 

2017 Plenary Statement on the Director General’s Report

Adopted in 2015, the Paris Agreement on climate change is now the globally recognized framework for international climate action and represents a reset of the global approach to climate change.  Anything adopted by the ILO on climate change prior to 2015 should be reevaluated in light of the Paris Agreement.   The Paris Agreement is historic because it envisions self-determined actions and pledges by all countries, according to their priorities and resources.  Importantly, it eliminated the binary Kyoto annexes which divided 193 countries into 2 arbitrary categories.

We are concerned by language in the Director General’s Report that seems to over-simplify the challenge ahead, portraying a straightforward “green” vs. “dirty” choice of technologies, industries, products and jobs.  We do not live in a binary “green” job “brown” job world, and similarly we do not have “green” versus “brown” energy or technology.  The reality is more complex, and there are many other stakeholders involved – notably consumers.  The fact is that all industry sectors will need to transition to cleaner and more efficient operations and energy sources.  The scale of transformation required to meet Paris commitments cannot be met without business finding ways to respond to growing populations seeking reliable affordable energy sources to run businesses, schools, hospitals, etc.  Whether the discussion is on ICT and smart grids, or new ways to sequester carbon that could extend the use of fossil fuels while reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, or zero emissions transport, a fuller and more multi-dimensional picture of enterprises is needed.  It is not about the coal miner versus the solar panel installer – it is much more complex.

Transitions will be felt in the business community in the form of opportunities for new industries or products across a wider array of sectors than those normally referred to as “green” through supply and value chains and arising from regulations, costs or innovations that result in more disruptive change or harm to competitiveness.  Without growth and productive employment, there is less room for the successful protection of the environment and the promotion of decent work.  As enterprises are the primary source of job creation, a business-friendly environment remains an essential priority.   Sustainable jobs and sustainable businesses go hand in hand.

The Paris Agreement calls not just on governments but other societal partners, including the business community to act.  The business community has shown strong and continuous commitment to support the Paris Agreement and its implementation.  Delivering the Paris commitments depends on the full engagement of business and employers.  In fact, after my country’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, nearly 1000 large companies and investors joined a “We Are Still In” movement, representing 120 million Americans and 40 percent of the US economy at the state and municipal level.  Local attitudes are important and matter.

As highlighted in the Director General’s Report, over the past two years. the UNFCCC has launched its work on “Just Transition”.  Yet until last month, the UNFCCC did not adequately or directly involve business and employers on these topics – while the ILO has been consulted throughout, as has the ITUC.  It is only in the last 2 months that business or employer views have been communicated to the UNFCCC via a joint submission by the IOE and ICC, and by IOE and ICC participation in the May 9 Bonn meeting on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.   The Roundtable highlighted the need for enhanced involvement of employers and the need for direct consultation with them in the future on just transition and other employment related matters.  Tripartism is a cornerstone of this Organization and should apply both inside and outside the ILO.

Much of the Director General’s report focuses on the labor market churn that will occur as a result of the transition from “dirty” to “green” jobs.  The strong impression the reader gets from his Report is that climate change requires a dedicated, special program by the ILO.  Our view is that structural change and job impact of climate change is not at all dissimilar from other ongoing structural change resulting from technological change.  Ask any expert about the future of work and you will hear about a world dominated by artificial intelligence, 3D printing, an on-demand economy, and five generations in a virtual workplace where almost any worker can perform almost any work from anywhere they choose. The ILO approach to climate change needs to be knitted together and treated holistically with other ILO structural change initiatives and the future of work.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

USCIB Statement on U.S. Withdrawal From the Paris Climate Agreement

New York, N.Y., June 1, 2017 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, issued the following statement on U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement:

“Like many others in the U.S. business community, USCIB is disappointed by the news that the Trump administration has elected to leave the Paris Climate Agreement. In our view, this decision could leave U.S. companies unprotected and exposed to possible discrimination under the Paris Agreement if the U.S. government is not at the table.

“The Paris Agreement is redefining global markets for energy and environmental goods and services, as well as providing major economic stimuli for companies. U.S. energy security and access were never threatened by the Paris Agreement, which allows each national government to define its own climate action plan. Moreover, the U.S. stands to benefit from trade and investment opportunities that the Paris Agreement will set in motion.

“We are interested to learn more about how the U.S. will pursue new arrangements while remaining in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. While it does so, we encourage the U.S. to stay involved on behalf of U.S. economic interests, and to bring U.S. solutions to this crucial global effort. We encourage the administration to reform areas of the UN climate framework toward more fair, transparent and balanced approaches that are responsive to U.S. circumstances and aspirations.

“USCIB members are committed to advancing sustainable development and environmental solutions through international cooperation, and have supported the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement since their inception. Multilateral forums and cooperative approaches are the best way to address the transboundary challenges of energy access and innovation, climate change and sustainable development. In close coordination with our global business partners, including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF), USCIB will continue to champion U.S. business interests in the UNFCCC, and will seek opportunities to promote U.S. environment and energy solutions through business engagement and implementation, and to broadly deploy climate-friendly investment and innovation.

“USCIB has represented U.S. business interests in the UN climate negotiations for over 25 years, and during that time has benefited from the diligent efforts of U.S. government representatives at the table to advance and defend U.S. business interests, often under challenging conditions. We express thanks to the current U.S. climate negotiating team, and others with whom we have worked, for their extraordinary efforts on our behalf.”

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of several leading international business organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
Tel: +1 212 703 5043
jhuneke@uscib.org

Kennedy Delivers Pro-Business Messages at UN Climate Meeting

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy at the UN climate talks in Bonn

USCIB’s expert on climate change and environment, Norine Kennedy attended the most recent UN climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany from May 8-18. Kennedy participated at the 46th session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 46) which included a Workshop on Non-State Actors, at which she delivered a statement on behalf of Business and Industry groups attending the UN meetings on technology, implementation and the Paris Agreement.   Conclusions from the SBI focus on enabling frameworks for public and private sector climate action, and as such have important implications for the Paris Agreement.

On May 9, Kennedy participated in the SBI Workshop on Non-State Actors which was organized to explore new forms of engagement by business and other non-governmental groups.  Some developing country representatives and non-governmental groups advocated a limit or ban on business observers based on a distorted interpretation of “conflict of interest,” citing the World Health Organization’s Framework of Engagement for Non-State Actors (WHO FENSA) as a model.   However, government delegations from Australia, Canada, the EU, Norway, the U.S. and others spoke strongly in favor of full inclusiveness and the necessity of keeping business involved in the Paris Agreement.

“The purpose of this discussion is to extend inclusion and substantive cooperation, not to create a tribunal,” Kennedy cautioned during her intervention. “Most business groups are subject to abundant requirements for transparency in their national settings and then again here at the UNFCCC. There is almost no possibility of misrepresenting interests or members.  Governments and others know what the business interests are when they directly hear from them and they take that into account accordingly.”

Kennedy repeated and elaborated on these recommendations in an Op-Ed on TheHill.com on the importance of business participation in intergovernmental climate deliberations and partnerships, and was subsequently quoted by the New York Times and Le Monde. “The reason we were able to get the Paris Agreement in the first place was that the UN was willing to open their doors to a whole range of stakeholders, including business,” she stated in a May 16 New York Times piece entitled, “’Vulnerable Voices’ Lash Out as Companies Sway Climate Talks.”

Like it or Not, UN Needs Private Sector Input in Climate Talks

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy at the UN climate talks in Bonn

USCIB Vice President Norine Kennedy has an op-ed in The Hill today urging UN negotiators not to freeze the business community out of future discussion of climate change. The full text of the op-ed is available on The Hill’s website.

Kennedy, who attended the latest UN climate talks in Bonn last week, worked closely with the U.S. and other governments, as well as numerous business groups including the International Chamber of Commerce, to push back against proposals by a few governments and NGOs to curtail private-sector participation under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

 


 

The Hill

May 15, 2017

Like it or Not, UN Needs Private Sector Input in Climate Talks

By Norine Kennedy

BONN, GERMANY—As the current round of U.N. climate talks here in Bonn near their conclusion, delegates are allowing themselves a sense of cautious relief. The Trump administration has postponed a final decision on its continued involvement in the UN climate treaty – and the Paris Agreement concluded in 2015 – until after this meeting concludes on May 18. A hard-working, albeit smaller-than-usual, U.S. delegation is on hand, and the talks are moving ahead on a range of technical matters.

(Read the full text on The Hill’s website.)

 

 

USCIB in the News: Business and the UN Climate Process

USCIB Vice President Norine Kennedy and CEO Peter Robinson at COP21 in 2015.

The Financial Times has published a letter to the editor from USCIB Vice President Norine Kennedy on the role of business in the UN climate change talks — please see below. The op-ed is also available on the FT’s website.

Publication of this letter comes as UN members gather in Bonn, Germany for talks leading up to this December’s COP23 summit. A few governments and interest groups have called for new rules aimed at restricting the private sector’s participation in the UN climate process. Kennedy’s letter forcefully rebuts these efforts.


Financial Times

May 4, 2017

Letter

Business takes its climate responsibilities seriously

From Norine Kennedy, New York, NY, US

Sir, Regarding “Developing nations seek to reveal business influence on climate talks” (May 1): the UN is at its best when it opens its doors to all relevant stakeholders. Potential conflicts of interest pertain to all organisations, not just business associations. Business representatives are obliged to abide by all UN rules as a condition of their attendance at UN meetings.

We take this responsibility seriously. Just two years ago, my organisation joined others from around the world in celebrating the Paris Climate Agreement. The political will needed to reach consensus in Paris was spurred in part by support from business. Now, disappointingly, some wish to disinvite the private sector.

Since it is business that will deliver the lion’s share of the investment and innovation needed to confront the climate challenge — a fact recognised in the Paris Agreement — shouldn’t the conversation include business representatives? How else can governments and other stakeholders develop effective policy frameworks to unlock potentially game-changing solutions?

Norine Kennedy
Vice President, Energy and Environment,
United States Council for International Business,
New York, NY, US

USCIB Urges Trump Administration to Remain Engaged in UN Climate Talks

With senior advisors in the Trump administration set to meet tomorrow to discuss U.S. engagement in the UN and other international climate change discussions, USCIB has urged the administration to keep the U.S. seat at the table.

Earlier this month, in a letter to the White House, USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson wrote: “In spite of challenges and shortcomings in the UN climate policy arena, USCIB reaffirms its support for the United States to continue as a Party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement.”

However, USCIB’s letter, which was sent April 17 to National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, explicitly recommended that the U.S. place a number of conditions on continued engagement, including reassessing existing U.S. emissions reduction and related commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement in the context of broader consultation with the private sector.

The letter further recommended that the U.S. insist on greater access and transparency in the UN climate negotiation process for U.S. economic stakeholders, call on the UN to discourage unilateral trade measures related to climate, and work through the UN and other international forums to foster speedier development and deployment of environmentally sound technologies.

“Addressing climate change and its impacts will require a long-term international cooperative approach with due attention to national circumstances and priorities to assure ongoing economic development,” Robinson wrote. “USCIB members are convinced that U.S. engagement and leadership are required to champion economically sound approaches to energy and climate change risks that advance U.S. economic prosperity and create new job and market opportunities for U.S. businesses at home and abroad.”

International Business Spring 2017 Issue

IB_Spring2017USCIB’s “International Business” Spring 2017 issue is now live! A web version can be accessed here.

The Spring 2017 issue features USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson‘s column on “American Competitiveness and Innovation in the 21st Century” as well as articles on developments in the G20, WTO and the UN climate talks, plus news from our global network–Business at OECD, the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“International Business,” USCIB’s quarterly journal, provides essential insight into major trade and investment topics, a high-level overview of USCIB policy advocacy and services, USCIB member news and updates from our global business network.

Subscribe to USCIB’s International Business Magazine

Subscriptions to “International Business” are available free upon request to representatives of USCIB member organizations. Contact us to subscribe.

Non-members may subscribe to “International Business” and other USCIB print publications at an annual rate of $50 (U.S.) for domestic delivery, or $75 for overseas delivery. Contact us to subscribe. USCIB’s annual report, studies from the United States Council Foundation and related publications are included with your paid subscription.

Our free electronic newsletter, “International Business Weekly,” provides regular updates on USCIB’s major activities and priorities. Click here to view a sample issue. Click here to subscribe.

We welcome outside submissions and inquiries regarding our publications – send them to news@uscib.org.

We welcome advertising in International Business magazine — special discounted rates for USCIB member organizations! Contact Kira Yevtukhova (kyevtukhova@uscib.org) for more information.

 

USCIB Urges Business Access in Comments to UNFCCC

As uncertainty in U.S. participation and leadership in UN climate negotiations and the Paris Climate Agreement continues, USCIB and its global network are pushing to ensure that business has a voice in the global climate policy process.

USCIB, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) recently submitted coordinated comments to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ahead of its Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 46) meeting, to take place in Bonn, Germany on May 8-18, 2017. The USCIB, ICC and BizMEF submissions all make the case for enhancing engagement of Non-Party Actors (NSAs), particularly the private sector, in order to strengthen Paris Agreement implementation. USCIB’s Norine Kennedy, Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment will attend the Bonn meetings, along with USCIB members from Monsanto and Novozymes.

In preparing the comments Kennedy noted, “As it stands today, the UNFCCC institutional infrastructure does not adequately reflect the role of the private sector and therefore must be updated and expanded to recognize and mobilize business engagement as part of global efforts to deliver on the Paris Agreement. In our view, the May Workshop during SBI46 on enhancing NSA engagement could provide valuable ideas to begin to build this vital institutional infrastructure for implementation of the Agreement.”

Governments have recognized the major contribution of the private sector to achieving the Paris Agreement, its entry into force and other follow-up activities.  As a long-time observer organization representing American business in the UNFCCC since 1993, USCIB has consistently sought to extend existing opportunities to participate in the international climate processes.  USCIB’s advocacy has focused on broadening and improving existing options to create a more comprehensive, recognized channel for business engagement to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement and ensure the effectiveness and resilience of the UNFCCC.

In its comments, USCIB emphasized that enhancing business engagement requires innovative governance and partnership, and will be a prerequisite for successful and cost-effective implementation. Kennedy stressed that “the UNFCCC should adjust its means of working with business to a more collaborative and mainstreamed mode. This will require innovative leadership by policy-makers to engage the private sector in new ways.”

USCIB’s comments also included suggestions for the SBI workshop’s objectives, a long-term vision for business engagement in the UNFCC, and the role of business in national pledges under the Paris Agreement, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The full submission can be accessed here.

 

USCIB Urges Secretary Tillerson to Push for UN Accountability

USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson issued a letter last week to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlining principles and priority areas for the Trump administration’s posture and involvement in international environmental policy and forums.

The letter recommends an assessment of U.S. engagement in the international environmental arena and proposes an ongoing dialogue with U.S. business groups familiar with those deliberations to inform the administration.

While a growing number of United Nations agencies are increasingly restricting the private sector and excluding business representatives from key meetings, USCIB’s statement urges the administration to insist that UN bodies conduct their work with transparency and accountability to economic stakeholders in the United States.

USCIB’s letter is timely given Tillerson’s first international trip this week as secretary of state to the Group of 20 (G20) meetings in Bonn, Germany. According to the Chicago Tribune, Secretary Tillerson will meet G20 envoys in Bonn to discuss the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and climate change.

USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy commented on the importance of maintaining a strong U.S. presence, noting: “The proliferation of environmental and climate change policies on the global agenda demands that the administration remain an active member of the international environmental community to further and defend U.S. business and economic interests, while tackling climate change and other universal environmental challenges.”

USCIB in the News: Op-ed in The Hill on UN Funding

un_headquarters_lo-resUSCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson published a timely op-ed in The Hill addressing recent calls in Congress to withhold or withdraw U.S. funding for the United Nations. The op-ed, reprinted below, is also available on The Hill’s website.

This op-ed comes as President-elect Trump’s top appointees, including his proposed foreign policy team, are on Capitol Hill for Senate confirmation hearings. We encourage you to share the op-ed with your colleagues and others who may be interested.


The Hill

January 11, 2017

Walking away from the UN would harm US economic interests

By Peter M. Robinson, opinion contributor

With President-elect Trump’s key foreign policy nominees facing Senate confirmation hearings this week and next, some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are threatening to withhold or slash U.S. funding for the United Nations.

This would be a bad idea, both for American power and influence, and for our economic interests. It would be especially risky for U.S. companies and workers.

My organization — The United States Council for International Business — has represented American business views to the U.N. and other international organizations for decades.

We know the U.N. sometimes fails to measure up to our expectations, particularly when it and its specialized agencies have provided a platform for anti-business views. Why do we put up with this? Why shouldn’t we just take our chips and go home?

Quite simply, because we know that no country, including the United States, can go it alone. A strong U.S. presence in the U.N. enhances our influence and our overall security.

More than ever, at a time when terrorism, cybersecurity threats, disease pandemics and refugee crises can disrupt our lives, we need the kind of platform for close international cooperation and collective action that the U.N. can provide.

This is especially true for American companies with customers, employees and operations around the world. While we may not agree with everything the U.N. does, it is simply not in our interest to withdraw support.

We in the private sector see an urgent need for the United States to stick up for its economic interests in the U.N.

For instance, in the negotiations that culminated in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the U.S. had to push back hard against proposals to undermine protection for innovation and intellectual property rights, to assign historical liability for loss and damage from natural disasters, and to ban certain technologies or energy options important to U.S. energy security and climate risk reduction.

Without strong U.S. leadership, these initiatives would have carried the day, hampering American jobs and competitiveness.

At their best, the U.N. and similar bodies set global standards and develop rules that allow U.S. businesses to plan and invest.

Recent U.N. initiatives that have helped American business and our economy include agreements that support a fundamentally “hands-off” approach to the global Internet and guidelines laying out the roles and responsibilities of the private sector and governments in upholding human rights.

Moreover, the U.N. has recently developed the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing an array of challenges, from ending global poverty and hunger to ensuring access to energy, for the next decade and beyond.

The SDGs were developed in close partnership with the private sector, which will be responsible for “delivering the goods” in many, if not most, measures of success.

So, is the U.N. perfect? Far from it, but withholding funding or walking away from the U.N. won’t change that.

Like it or not, it is part of the fundamental infrastructure for global economic activity. Like other infrastructure, the U.N. is desperately in need of repair to meet the needs of the 21st century.

If we play our cards right, this can be a century of American-led innovation and entrepreneurship. President-elect Trump’s administration should insist that the U.N. live up to its potential, defending and advancing U.S. interests in the influential world body.

Business will be there to help. Just last month, the U.N. afforded highly-selective Observer Status in the U.N. General Assembly to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the business organization that represents enterprises across the globe in numerous U.N. deliberations.

This is an important sign of progress, indicating that the U.N. recognizes the need to work more effectively with business.

(Full disclosure: My organization serves as ICC’s American chapter and we pushed hard in support of ICC’s application.)

Congress should meet U.S. funding obligations and work with the Trump administration to hold the U.N. accountable to the U.S. and other member governments, as well as to economic stakeholders in the business community.

Strong engagement and leadership in the global body by the United States is an opportunity too important to lose. American security, jobs and economic opportunities are at stake if the U.S. were to indeed walk away.

Peter M. Robinson is president and CEO of the United States Council for International Business. He is an appointee to the President’s Committee on the International Labor Organization and the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Public-Private Partnerships. Robinson holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.