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.

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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.

WTO Members Fail to Wrap Up Green Goods Agreement

WTO headquarters in Geneva
WTO headquarters in Geneva

USCIB and other business groups expressed disappointment at the failure to conclude negotiations toward an international Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) among more than a dozen leading members of the World Trade Organization. A concluded agreement promised to free up trade in a wide variety of environmentally friendly goods and technologies.

“This is a missed opportunity, both for the environment and for the international trading system,” stated USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “To business, it is clear that achieving greener growth depends on the widespread deployment of innovative technologies and management systems through more open trade and investment. These can help to address climate risks, improve food, water and energy security, and offer cleaner goods to consumers in developing countries. A conclusion of the EGA negotiations would have been a big step in that direction.”

The Coalition for Green Trade, of which USCIB is a leading member, issued a press release stating, in part: “The failure to conclude this deal represents a significant missed opportunity for the global economy, delaying positive contributions to job growth, innovation and environmental goals until a later date.”

According to Eva Hampl, USCIB’s director of trade and investment policy, who was onsite in Geneva for the conclusion of the talks, negotiations fell apart over a disagreement over product lists. “While we end the year without an agreement in hand, we are hopeful that the parties will resume negotiations in the near future,” said Hampl.

China had a number of unique concerns with respect to the types of goods to be covered by the EGA as well as some agreed-upon text provision. In the end, China failed to come to the table with a constructive proposal, in the face of a workable solution as presented by the Chair of the negotiations.

USCIB has worked closely with a variety of international partners to push for ambitious approaches to environmental challenges that take account of the unique contributions of the business community and the multilateral trading system. At the recent COP22 climate talks in Marrakesh, USCIB joined over 40 other business groups in a joint declaration of private-sector action on climate.

Private Sector Unites for Action Under Paris Climate Agreement

USCIB joined representatives from over forty leading national and international business groups to endorse the Marrakesh Declaration, agreed at the High Level Business Summit on November 16 during the 22nd UN Convention on Climate Change (COP22) meetings in Marrakesh.  This meeting, convened by Morocco’s preeminent business group, the Confederation General des Enterprises de Maroc (CGEM) and the leading French business organization, MEDEF, agreed a consensus statement on business priorities and commitment to further develop the Paris Agreement and to create enabling frameworks to support business investment, innovation and implementation of the UN climate agreement.

The main objective of COP22 was to accelerate technical work and guidelines for reporting under the Paris Agreement in several areas, including tracking government action and linking carbon markets, in order to support implementation and meet deadlines resulting from the rapid ratification and entry into force of the Paris Agreement.  While few substantive issues were resolved, the two weeks of negotiations did deliver decisions to outline a timetable for future work and request submissions from governments on a wide range of policy and market topics. Over 20,000 government, UN, NGO, business and press representatives attended COP22.  Members of USCIB on hand at the conference included Nick Campbell, Arkema, Justin Perrettson, Novozymes, Russel Mills, Dow Chemical Company, Brian Lowry, Monsanto, Arthur Lee, Chevron and Jorge Dieguez, Dupont.

While the outcome of the U.S. presidential election did raise questions regarding the U.S. role in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, according to Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for energy and environment, “We regard U.S. government involvement in the UN climate process as critical to represent and defend U.S. economic interests overseas, and promote U.S. innovation as part of the solution to energy security and lower carbon economic activity.”

USCIB also presented on business perspectives on implementing the Paris Agreement and the role of business in developing and improving national pledges, known as Nationally determined contributions (NDCs), that are the foundation of the Paris Agreement.  At an official COP22 side-event on November 18, organized by the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF), of which USCIB is a founding member, Kennedy participated on a panel with other experts and representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Turkish business association, TUSIAD, the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Japan’s business group Keidanren, and the Global CCS Institute.

USCIB actively works with BizMEF to develop global business recommendations on the top-line issues that matter to U.S. business. Just one week prior to the official COP22 side-event, USCIB, through BizMEF, partnered with CGEM to convene the 4th BizMEF Business Dialogue. This Dialogue brought together over seventy participants from business, governments, and UN agencies and was a crucial platform for Kennedy to present USCIB’s report on the role of business in developing national pledges under the Paris Agreement, with recommendations for involving the private sector in national and international assessments of climate action.

The next two years will bring multiple fast-moving – by UN standards – decision-making deliberations across a number of key issues, and USCIB will continue to track those that most directly impact our members. USCIB will focus on ways to carve out a clear role for business input and representation in the process. Kennedy emphasized, “We consider it fundamental, at both the national and international levels, for policy makers to consult with business on the economic and environmental aspects of climate policies. There is no doubt that the Paris Agreement has implications for every business sector, across all types of commercial activity, in the near and the long terms. So preserving and improving the UN system’s accountability and transparency, and creating new opportunities for the private sector to contribute, this is USCIB’s bottom line.”

USCIB will circulate a comprehensive COP22 report out and seek USCIB members’ recommendations on 2017 USCIB climate advocacy in early December.  Please contact Norine Kennedy to get involved in USCIB’s climate and environment committees.

CLICK to download new BizMEF statements on the role of business in the UN climate talks, implementing the Paris Agreement, national reporting and verification and greenhouse gas markets.

Will COP22 Mark the Beginning or the End of the Paris Climate Agreement?

Norine Kennedy at COP22
USCIB Vice President Norine Kennedy at COP22 in Marrakesh

The first part of the UN climate talks that wrapped up last week in Marrakesh, Morocco coincided with the U.S. presidential election. According to Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for energy and environment, who was in Marrakesh for the duration, Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president delivered a jolt to negotiators, who suddenly were faced with the prospect of a possible U.S. pullout from the historic Paris Climate Agreement agreed last December. But negotiators rallied around the agreement, which entered into force earlier this month, presenting a challenge to the new U.S. administration come January 20.

As COP22 – the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – was coming to a close, Kennedy presented on business perspectives on implementing the Paris Agreement and the role of business in nationally determined contributions (NDCs) at an official COP22 side-event on November 18. The side-event was organized by the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF), of which USCIB is a member. Kennedy participated on a panel with other experts and representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Turkish business association Tüsiad, the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Japan’s business group Keidanren, and the Global CCS Institute.

USCIB actively works with the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF), developing global business recommendations on the top-line issues that matter to U.S. business. Just one week prior to the official COP22 side-event, USCIB, through BizMEF, partnered with Morocco’s preeminent business group, General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) to hold a Business Dialogue with government and UNFCCC secretariat representatives. This Dialogue brought together over seventy participants from business, governments, and UN agencies and was a crucial platform for Kennedy to present USCIB’s report on NDC’s.

Kennedy has represented USCIB and its members in UN climate deliberations since 1993. The common thread for USCIB, she said, has always been the importance of U.S. business as solution providers and the need to have U.S. economic interests represented and furthered in international decision-making on climate change. “The climate challenge is itself a long-term phenomenon that impacts regulations and energy access in all countries where U.S. companies operate, and which will also offer new market and innovation opportunities for U.S. business,” she said. USCIB intends to provide continuity and thought leadership on climate policy in the broader context of sustainability, to the administration of President-elect Trump and to future administrations. “We intend to help U.S. government decision makers and the UN system to develop policy frameworks that best address climate change while also facilitating cross-border trade, investment and innovation by U.S. companies,” noted Kennedy.

The Paris Agreement is not a finished product – the broad outlines and goals are indeed established, but key details on a number of critical issues to business, such as the role of various national and regional carbon markets, the tracking and updating of national pledges, and how technology innovation and potential liability for climate-related damages might be tackled are still works in progress. There is still an essential role for U.S. business to stay in touch with our government delegation to offer views and suggestions on thorny issues, and provide examples and other relevant information on business initiatives.

The next two years will bring multiple fast-moving – by UN standards – decision-making deliberations across a number of key issues, and USCIB will continue to track those that most directly impact our members. USCIB will focus on ways to carve out a clear role for business input and representation in the process. Kennedy emphasized: “We consider it fundamental, at both the national and international levels, for policy makers to consult with business on the economic and environmental aspects of climate policies. There is no doubt that the Paris Agreement will affect every business sector, across all types of commercial activity, in both the near and the long terms. So preserving and improving the UN system’s accountability and transparency, and creating new opportunities for the private sector to contribute, this is USCIB’s bottom line.”

CLICK to download new BizMEF statements on the role of business in the UN climate talks, implementing the Paris Agreement, national reporting and verification and greenhouse gas markets.

Workshop Highlights Need for Business Input to Implement UN Climate Agreement

marrakechLeading business organizations met in Marrakesh, Morocco on the margins of the UN’S COP22 climate meetings, to address the next steps under the Paris Climate Agreement, specifically the prospects for injecting business expertise and technical advice into the agreement’s implementation at the national and global levels. Convened by USCIB, in cooperation with the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) and the Moroccan business federation CGEM, the Marrakesh Business Dialogue brought together over 70 government, business and UN representatives at the Universite Privé de Marrakesh.

Topics under discussion included where national pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could be delivered more cost effectively, and where business could provide necessary information to international reviews of progress under the Paris Agreement. Previous USCIB-organized BizMEF Dialogue meetings in Doha, Warsaw and Lima provided important thought leadership and input to the UN process, en route to finalizing the far-reaching treaty agreed last year.

“The Paris Agreement’s entry into force earlier this month increases the urgency to engage business in all aspects of the Paris Agreement, including its implementation,” according to USCIB Vice President Norine Kennedy, who is spearheading USCIB’s representation in Marrakesh.

Opening the meeting, Said Mouline, the Moroccan official responsible for public-private partnerships for COP22, stated that “business engagement is needed for capacity building and technology transfer.” In the course of the dialogue, participants talked about defining entry points in the Paris Agreement for representative business organizations that would contribute to transparency in reporting, reviewing national progress and informing future national pledges.

Business and government representatives agreed that both have a lot to gain from working together on the NDCs, improving transparency and measurement, verification and verification (MRV) systems, and seeking to maintain continuity and resilience of the pledges made. This cooperation will need to long term and ongoing, through the five-year cycles that are at the heart of the infrastructure of the Paris Agreement.

USCIB’s Kennedy presented a recently completed report, Business Engagement in Domestic and International Implementation of the Paris Agreement. This first-of-its-kind report offers case studies from BizMEF partner organizations and recommends a recognized business interface to be developed as part of the Paris Agreement institutional infrastructure.

“USCIB’s consistent message has been that enhancing business engagement is not just a matter of innovative governance and partnership, but also a prerequisite for successful and cost-effective implementation of climate policy,” stated Kennedy. She said such engagement should build on existing entities such as the Green Climate Fund, the Technology Executive Committee, and the Climate Technology Center and Network, and should work in synergy with the Global Action Agenda and NAZCA Platform. “The structure can be similar to other existing successful examples of business consultation and dialogue in inter-governmental forums,” such as the OECD and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, she said.

Kennedy added: “It is the business community that will do much of the implementation that is needed to reach the goals under the Paris Agreement, and USCIB has set enhancing recognized business consultation as a priority in its post-Paris climate advocacy.”

Kennedy stated that it is only with broader, more substantive and inclusive business engagement that the Paris Agreement can meet its potential. “This is more than a “nice-to-have,” she said. “It is essential to further the evolution at needed speed and scale to a lower carbon and sustainable global economy.”

BizMEF, of which USCIB is a founding member, is a partnership of leading multi-sectoral business organizations from over 25 major economies that provides responsible business views and practical input to inform deliberations in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

USCIB Statement on the U.S. Election Results

Trump announces security policy in Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaNew York, N.Y., November 9, 2016Terry McGraw, chairman of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) and Peter Robinson, USCIB’s president and CEO, released the following statement on the results of the U.S. election:

“We congratulate Donald J. Trump on his election as our next President. It has been an intensely hard-fought campaign, and we look forward to Americans coming together behind shared values and a common purpose. We also congratulate the members from both parties elected to both houses of the 115th Congress.

“It is important for the United States to remain engaged globally and provide leadership on a range of issues affecting our national prosperity, including international trade, climate change, sustainability and support for a rules-based global economy.

“American companies are heavily invested in creating the conditions for expanded U.S. influence internationally and renewed investment and growth at home. USCIB is eager to work with the new Administration and Congress – and with the overseas business partners with whom we have established longstanding close ties – to focus attention on the key issues and initiatives that will undergird America’s growth and success, and strengthen the global economy, in the 21st century.

“The next Administration faces numerous challenges as it takes office. A top priority should be to develop and implement, in concert with the Congress, a strategy for U.S. engagement with the wider world – one that both continues and augments the benefits that American businesses, workers and consumers draw from active participation in the global economy and international institutions. We need policies that anticipate, address and support the demands of a changing American workplace, while addressing the legitimate needs of those displaced or disadvantaged by the 21st-century global economy.

“Such a strategy must recognize and build upon America’s strengths in innovation, entrepreneurship, world-class work force and know-how. It should further seek to leverage American business to reinforce U.S. global leadership, and effectively engage with multilateral institutions to foster international rules and a level playing field that support our competitiveness. It should also seek to make these institutions more accountable and representative of key global stakeholders, including the private sector, in pursuit of shared goals and values.

“We are ready to work with the new Administration and Congress to strengthen U.S. competitiveness, reap the gains from participation in global markets and trade, and deliver benefits in the form of jobs and opportunities for U.S. workers. These objectives can and must be pursued together.”

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 the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD, 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, VP communications, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org