On to Copenhagen: Major Business Groups Set Priorities for Climate Action

While building owners in Copenhagen find many ways to “go green,” governments face major challenges in crafting a global climate pact.
While building owners in Copenhagen find many ways to “go green,” governments face major challenges in crafting a global climate pact.

As the world enters the final stretch leading up to December’s UN Copenhagen summit meeting on climate change, representatives of major business groups from around the world met in Washington on September 21 and 22 to frame recommendations on long-term climate action and the role of business in curbing greenhouse gases.  Representatives of ten top leading business groups from six continents took part – including BusinessEurope, the Japan’s Nikkei Keidanren, the Confederation of Indian Industry, USCIB and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event.

Following on an earlier February roundtable in Copenhagen, where business groups from diverse countries reached a degree of consensus that surprised even themselves, representatives exchanged views on the shape of a new international agreement on climate change, agreed on a number of shared fundamental objectives and sought to contribute to ongoing negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on energy and climate.

The business groups emphasized the critical role of open trade to both economic recovery and dissemination of environmentally advanced technology.  The group also stressed the importance of economic development and competitiveness, financing, energy security and energy efficiency.  These will be conveyed to the MEF and developed further in future meetings.

According to Brian Flannery (ExxonMobil), co-chair of USCIB’s international energy policy working group, it is likely that, as the result of the Copenhagen summit, business will be charged with making major contributions to economic and technological capacity-building.  For that reason, a clearer and more formal role for business in the UNFCCC process is needed.  “The realities of the global marketplace and supply-chains will require economy-wide, multi-sectoral and inter-disciplinary evaluation of proposed policies,” he said.

Between now and the Copenhagen summit, governments are struggling to reach consensus on post-2012 commitments to greenhouse gas reductions, adaptation to the likely impact of climate change, and necessary technological and financing measures.   Some progress was made at the recent UN high-level meetings and a global leadership forum held in New York around the opening of the UN General Assembly (see USCIB statement).

USCIB, working with the International Chamber of Commerce as the main business and industry focal-point for the UNFCCC negotiations, has represented its members’ interests in the process since 1993, and attended the UN leadership forum in New York.

According to Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for environment and energy, the UN meeting in Copenhagen “should be viewed not as a finish line, but as a starting point,” the beginning of what she said will likely be a “long discussion about the details of post-2012 action.” USCIB will be covering the remaining negotiations in Bangkok and Barcelona, as well as in Copenhagen.

MEF business statement on climate

More on USCIB’s Environment Committee

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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