The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change closed its 18th governing body meeting (known as COP18) last week in Doha, following two weeks of contentious negotiations. Decisions made in Doha set a course for the development of a longer-term and more inclusive climate agreement, to be concluded by 2015. Governments also endorsed two UN new bodies, on finance and technology, and defined the commitments, duration and carbon-market elements for a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol.
“Before and during COP18, we made the case for outcomes that would strengthen enabling frameworks for innovation and investment,” explained Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for environment and energy. “USCIB has advocated the need to engage business expertise in framing effective international policies and practices for greenhouse-gas reduction and responding to the impacts of climate change.” She said USCIB, having been involved in the UN climate-change negotiations since 1993, provided an economy-wide and multi-sectoral perspective on behalf of its members to promote energy security and deploy cleaner technologies.
Intellectual property a concern
According to Kennedy, USCIB members worked closely with key governmental representatives to ensure that outcomes in Doha did not call into question the importance of intellectual property rights protection, or open an unnecessary and distracting discussion of IP outside of the climate body’s competence and mandate. She said access to energy and technology would be critical in scaling up the necessary investments and deployments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Doha outcomes can enable cooperation to mobilize private-sector contributions and know-how.
Kennedy pointed out that the outcomes of COP18, while limited in some respects, reflect the challenges inherent in this negotiation, due to its economic and competitiveness impacts. “While some observers consider the outcomes of COP18 underwhelming, we understand that this is a marathon which, while slow, is yielding results,” she said. “We are especially pleased to note the increasing acceptance of business involvement in new institutions that will be providing finance and technology to developing countries.”
In a November 28 letter to Todd Stern, the lead U.S. government climate negotiator, USCIB highlighted the importance of maintaining strong protection of intellectual property rights, regulatory clarity and practical, business-oriented solutions, including preparedness for short-term extreme weather events and planning for longer-term resilience in a changing climate. The letter also stressed the importance of the broader economic context, stating that “the global trade system should be seen as a vehicle for broader dissemination of technologies and other solutions to address climate challenges and advance greener growth.”
USCIB took part in the Doha Dialogue at COP18, convened by the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF). This meeting laid out options for enhancing the substantive involvement of business in the UN climate process and its institutions. High level representatives from governments and inter-governmental bodies, and business people, agreed to continue and deepen the discussions at COP19, which will take place in Warsaw in November 2013.
BizMEF is a partnership of leading multi-sectoral business organizations from major economies and regions, including USCIB. Modeled after the government-to-government Major Economies Forum, BizMEF promotes dialogue on climate change and energy security across a broad spectrum of business interests including major developed, emerging, and developing economies.
In the coming weeks, USCIB will provide members with a fuller report of Doha outcomes and discuss its priorities for 2013 in international climate and energy policy.