Governments Reject Discriminatory Barriers to Business at UN Climate Talks

Following intense and sometimes contentious negotiations, governments meeting in Bonn under the UN climate treaty last month rejected any reference to “conflict of interest” or conditionality for observer organizations. Commenting on the successful conclusion of UN discussions to allow transparent and inclusive involvement of business, Justin Perrettson (Novozymes), who co-chairs the USCIB Environment Committee encouraged  “all Parties to take full advantage of the depth and breadth of business engagement and experience with climate change issues and to partner with business to help inform and implement ambitious national pledges.”

Countries including the Africa Group, China, Ecuador, Venezuela and Cuba began the Bonn deliberations arguing for new measures to protect against “undue business influence,” and proposing language to:

  1. define “conflict of interest” in a way that would inherently discriminate against business
  2. require a statement of support of the UNFCCC in order for any non-governmental entity to be allowed to observe the climate negotiations.

Climate Justice, Youth, Indigenous Peoples and Women and Gender NGOs all advocated restricting, or even banning, certain sectors of business from the UNFCCC discussions, asserting a distorted interpretation of “conflict of interest,” and citing the precedent of the World Health Organization Framework of Engagement for Non State Actors (FENSA).

Along with Perrettson, USCIB representatives Nick Campbell (Arkema) and USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Environment and Energy Norine Kennedy met with U.S. and other government delegations to make the case for inclusive and transparent engagement opportunities for all stakeholders, including business. In addition to the U.S.,  Australia, New Zealand and Norway spoke out definitively against the addition of any such business discriminatory practices.

The Bonn Climate Change Conference took place from April 30 to May 10 in Bonn, Germany. Approximately 4000 participants from governments, UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations, business and civil society organizations, and the media were on hand to make final preparations for the 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, which will take place later this year (December 3-18, 2018).

The main objective of the Bonn negotiations was to advance the Paris Agreement Work Programme (also known as “the Paris Rulebook”) and develop “negotiating text” for the decisions required to make the Paris Agreement operational by COP24. When complete, the Paris Rulebook would set out procedures for carbon markets and guide the tracking of comparability of effort across different national pledges.

Limited progress in Bonn necessitated the announcement of a supplementary negotiation session to be held in Bangkok, Thailand (August 31 to September 8).  It will be critical to have a negotiating text at the end of the Bangkok session if the Paris Rulebook is to be agreed at COP24.

USCIB members seeking more information on climate change and conflict of interest discrimination should contact Norine Kennedy and attend USCIB’s June 7 Environment Committee in NYC

Staff Contact:   Norine Kennedy

Senior VP, Policy and Global Strategy
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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