Highlights from the First Week of COP21

Norine Kennedy (USCIB) speaks at an event at the U.S. Center about using trade to jump start Paris action.
Norine Kennedy (USCIB) speaks at an event at the U.S. Center about using trade to jump start Paris action.

World leaders representing nearly 200 nations have gathered in Paris for the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to finalize a long-term global climate agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping communities deal with the adverse effects of global warming. On December 5, the draft climate agreement agreed by 195 countries was presented to the COP. The COP president hopes to have an outcome ready for review by Friday, December 11.

USCIB led an American business delegation to Paris, providing critical business recommendations and engagement to the UN through its global network, including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and in partnership with the Major Economies Business Forum on Energy Security and Climate Change (BizMEF), to inform the agreement’s outcome, ensuring that its conclusions truly work for business.

COP21 will conclude on December 11. Here are some highlights from week one of the world’s largest climate change summit.

Find out more on USCIB’s climate homepage.

U.S. business appeals for private-sector role in UN climate talks

L-R: Pierre Dejoux (Otis/United Technologies), Alexandra Liftman (Bank of America) and Peter Robinson (USCIB)
L-R: Pierre Dejoux (Otis/United Technologies), Alexandra Liftman (Bank of America) and Peter Robinson (USCIB)

American business representatives gathered at the UN climate summit in Paris have appealed to governments to establish a mechanism for ongoing, substantive dialogue with the private sector, saying such a mechanism is essential to achieving COP21’s goal of effectively addressing global climate change.

USCIB and the American Chamber of Commerce in France issued a joint declaration following a business briefing on December 5 that coincided with the halfway point of COP21.

The declaration stated: “Until now, business groups have been viewed as ‘observers’ at these vital UN deliberations. Yet in view of all that business does and offers, that is a misnomer. We see COP21 as a pivotal opportunity to pursue institutional innovation. New challenges require new ways of working together, which can be achieved through the recognition and expansion of partnerships, dialogue and consultation between governments and the private sector.”

“Our takeaway from today is that the UN needs business,” USCIB President CEO Peter Robinson said at the meeting. “It needs a solid working relationship between business and the UN system. To be sure, business needs the UN Climate Agreement – but more importantly, the UNFCCC needs business.”

Read the full press release here.

View photos of the event (Flickr).

Business rallies in support of COP21 agreement

Business representatives taking part in the official COP21 Business and Industry (BINGO) Day on December 4 called on governments to seal a deal that will work with the private sector and help them do more to meet the climate challenge.

“A COP21 agreement must work with business to speed and scale up the innovation and investment needed to reduce emissions and increase resilience to changing weather patterns,” said ICC Secretary General John Danilovich.  Danilovich pointed to the estimated $53 trillion investment required in energy supply and efficiency that is largely expected to come from the private sector, saying “It’s clear that business action and engagement will be, without doubt, a central and defining part of the solution [to the climate challenge].”

In a letter to the New York Times on December 4, Danilovich also said: “It is therefore vital that the Paris talks mark the start of a new era of collaboration with business when it comes to climate change.”

Read more on ICC’s website.

Climate pledges at a glance

Never have there been more world leaders focused on one issue, for one day, in one place. 150 presidents and prime ministers, along with 40,000 delegates from 195 countries and civil society and businesses have been attending COP21. Pledges made by countries during the first week of COP21 include:

  • $248 million in adaptation finance pledged for the world’s poorest by 11 countries to the Least Developed Countries Fund.
  • $500 million for a green incentives fund by Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland in partnership with the World Bank.
  • Mission Innovation,” a public-private partnership unveiled by President Obama and Bill Gates pledging $20 billion over five years of R&D funding for clean energy innovation.
  • One trillion dollars by 2030 for the massive deployment of affordable solar energy in developing countries through the “International Solar Energy Alliance” backed up by 120 countries.
  • 2 billion euros pledged by France in renewable energy in Africa from 2016-20.

At the start of COP21 on November 30, President Obama said: “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it.”

COP21 will conclude on December 11.

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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