Business Dialogue Engages Private Sector in UN Climate Talks

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson at a press conference in Lima, Peru on December 8. “If a global agreement on climate change doesn’t work for and with businesses, it just won’t work,” he said.
USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson at a press conference in Lima, Peru on December 8. “If a global agreement on climate change doesn’t work for and with businesses, it just won’t work,” he said.

The United Nations climate change conference wrapped up in the wee hours of Sunday in Lima, Peru ending two weeks of climate talks and 36 straight hours of negotiations over the weekend. Member states agreed to a common structure for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – known in the UN as “Intended Nationally Determined Pledges” – and to move ahead on a broader international climate agreement that would enter into force in 2020.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 20th
Conference of the Parties (COP20), which took place in Lima from December 1 to 12, set the foundation for an intense year of negotiations leading to a long term, comprehensive climate agreement in Paris 2015.

Signaling the political challenges of the task at hand, the 194 governments struggled for consensus on a five page decision that would allow the process to continue. Conflicts between rich and developing nations bogged down efforts to build a draft of the final Paris 2015 climate agreement, in sharp contrast to strong interest by businesses and other stakeholders to be more substantively involved in action and consultation towards the 2015 Paris outcome.

“Lima’s outcomes show the scale of the task before governments and society in limiting greenhouse gases, planning for energy transitions, and linking resilience and development,” said Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for strategic international engagement, energy and the environment. “Business innovation and investment are indispensable, and USCIB is ready to continue to inform and support these vital economic and environmental deliberations going forward.”

USCIB and the Major Economies Business Forum

L-R: Norine Kennedy (USCIB), Honorable James Bacchus (Chair, ICC Trade and Investment Commission) and Diego de la Torre (CONFIEP) at the BizMEF Lima Business Dialogue.
L-R: Norine Kennedy (USCIB), Honorable James Bacchus (Chair, ICC Trade and Investment Commission) and Diego de la Torre (CONFIEP) at the BizMEF Lima Business Dialogue.

Committed to forging a recognized consultative role for business in the United Nations climate agreement to be finalized next year in Paris, the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF), of which USCIB is a member, co-hosted the “Lima Business Dialogue” during COP20 in Lima. The Dialogue was organized in partnership with, and hosted by, the Lima Chamber of Commerce on December 7.

Over 70 attendees participated in the dialogue, including high-level government officials and climate negotiators from the United States, Peru, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Japan and Poland; global business leaders; representatives of major national business organizations; and officials from the UNFCCC Secretariat. Playing a leading role for USCIB were President and CEO Peter Robinson and Norine Kennedy, vice president for strategic international engagement, energy and the environment.

BizMEF comprises national and regional business organizations representing millions of companies all over the world, and members have participated in and shared views at meetings of the UNFCCC since COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. This partnership’s broad representation allows BizMEF to provide robust and balanced views on a range of issues in discussions concerning climate change, energy and development. USCIB contributed to five BizMEF papers on key priorities, issues and perspectives around the UN climate negotiations.

The Lima Business Dialogue tackled climate change policy and market opportunities and challenges faced by the Latin American business community, reviewed the role the private sector plays in the UN’s technology mechanism and the UNFCCC’s Green Climate Fund, and discussed the value of engagement by the private sector in the UN’s Post-2020 Climate Agreement. Panel discussions focused on critical areas for business such as nationally determined contributions, markets, and carbon markets and pricing.

View photos from the COP20 Lima Business Dialogue
(Flickr)

“Our goal is to encourage the creation of more effective engagement options for the business community in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” said Robinson. “Both by considering ways to do so and by demonstrating the value of enhanced, recognized participation.”

This session built on previous successful BizMEF Dialogues in Doha and Warsaw Dialogues in 2012 and 2013. While the UN refers to businesses as “observer organizations” at the UNFCCC’s deliberations, implementation of government commitments, and the financial and technological means to do so, rely in large part on the private sector. Yet business has limited opportunities to offer its technical expertise and policy advice to the deliberations.

“The UNFCCC now has a once in a decade opportunity to anchor business in the Paris 2015 outcome,” Kennedy said at the dialogue. “And by doing so, to tap into the business’s unique understanding of policy and markets, and its operational, technological, investment, and management expertise to help design and implement the new international cooperative climate framework. We are not seeking to sit at the table with negotiators. We aim to be a resource to negotiators and the process.”

The day after the Lima Business Dialogue, Robinson attended a press conference with International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) leaders in which he made a strong case for business engagement in UN climate talks.

“If a global agreement on climate change doesn’t work for and with businesses, it just won’t work,” he said. Robinson was also quoted in a Financial Times article, “Business calls for greater say in climate talks.”

For more information on USCIB’s, ICC’s, and BizMEF’s engagement in UN climate negotiations, visit our COP20 web page, and follow us on Twitter at #BizCOP20.

Key USCIB issues for Lima:

  • Ensuring the role of business is anchored in the Paris 2015 outcomes.
  • Reviewing the form and scope of the Intended Nationally Determined Pledges: USCIB tracked the degree to which business would be consulted in INDC preparation at the national level and in reviewing INDCs at international levels.
  • Supporting innovation and strong intellectual property rights protections, including in the ongoing work of the Technology Mechanism. While the Lima Decision does not mention IP, the most recent version of the “elements” of a negotiating text contains references to intellectual property.
  • Ensuring that conditions for private sector investment are strengthened. The Green Climate Fund did reach its $10 billion threshold, yet discussions of markets and market mechanisms were contentious.

Staff contact: Norine Kennedy

More on USCIB’s Environment Committee

Staff Contact:   Norine Kennedy

VP, Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment
Tel: 212.703.5052

Norine Kennedy promotes U.S. business participation in international environmental policy and management initiatives, and works closely with industry, government and NGOs to promote sustainable development and green growth. She also spearheads USCIB’s strategic international engagement initiative, which seeks to advance meaningful business participation and regulatory diplomacy in inter-governmental organizations.
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