Business at OECD Head Shares 2020 Policy Priorities With USCIB

Business at OECD’s Russel Mills (left, center) with IOE’s Shea GoPaul and USCIB policy staff

Secretary General of Business at OECD (BIAC) Russel Mills visited USCIB’s Washington DC and New York offices the week of February 3 to update staff on Business at OECD and OECD priorities for the year.

Mills shared that environment, biodiversity, plastics and climate change issues are moving to the top of the agenda, however there will also be a mushrooming of digitization plans and digital economy work related to changing business models and digitally enabled companies. Mills also noted that policies around digital taxation and re-skilling will be on top of the agenda for both organizations.

“We really valued our time with Russel, which gave us an opportunity to touch base on our respective organizations’ policy priorities,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “USCIB looks forward to a productive year working with BIAC to help drive the work of the OECD.”

USCIB Adopts Carbon Offset Program for Employee International Travel

USCIB today announced that it has initiated a program to support carbon offsets for its employees’ international travel.

This initiative reflects USCIB’s continuous engagement in international climate policy deliberations supporting U.S. private sector engagement and solutions towards GHG emissions reduction, adaptation and resilience, and its recognition of its global carbon footprint.

In 2019, USCIB staff, together with member company representatives, participated in over 90 meetings and negotiations of some 18 international institutions in over 25 locations around the globe.

Beginning this month, January, 2020, carbon offset tables are being used by USCIB to calculate the carbon equivalent costs of international airline flights. That amount is being donated to sustainability programs such as forest conservation and management. The contributions will go to organizations participating with airlines most often used by USCIB staff.

In many cases, specific options of sustainability programs are provided to enable the contributor to make a “greatest impact” choice.  Where an airline does not work directly with an established organization, USCIB will decide on the recipient program.

USCIB recognizes that in the future, airlines themselves may be required to offset emissions under the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), agreed in 2018 in Montreal, which when enacted would make USCIB’s program redundant for international passenger offsets. However, the lack of agreement on an implementation schedule at the recent COP 25 meeting in Madrid of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) resulted in a postponement of enactment beyond the original 2021 goal. Until that time, USCIB believes that its carbon offset program is a positive contribution that it can make in the face of the global climate challenge.

USCIB will maintain a record of the offsets that will be available to members who might wish to see progress updates.

ICC Launches Report on Climate Change Related Dispute Resolution

L-R: Edna Sussman, Matthew Draper, Kevin O’Gorman, Nancy Thevenin, and Hélène van Lith

The ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR recently released a report on settling business disputes related to climate change with arbitration. The report, titled Resolving Climate Change Related Disputes Through Arbitration and ADR and initially launched in Paris earlier this month, was launched in New York at the offices of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP on January 21. The New York launch was co-sponsored by USCIB and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration©.

The report defines climate change-related disputes and uses hypothetical case studies to demonstrate the potential circumstances in which such disputes may arise. Contracts identified as dealing with climate change include agreements for the creation of wind farms, solar power energy plants, smart cities or to decarbonize. 2019 is a pivotal year in the development of global climate policy with the UN seeking to raise ambition of commitments from states and other actors in line with the imperative to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

“This report provides sample language for ICC arbitration clauses, as well as terms of reference and guidance for case management,” said USCIB General Counsel Nancy Thevenin, who spoke on a panel titled Users’ Perspectives. “Because of the tools this report provides, climate change related disputes can be resolved more effectively. It is an invaluable product for the business community as industries take into account international agreements concerning the environment.”

Featured speakers also included, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Head of New York Office at UN Environment Satya S. Tripathi, ICC International Court of Arbitration President Alexis Mourre, Co-Chair of the Task Force on Arbitration of Climate Change Related Disputes Patrick Thieffry and other renowned members of the international Arbitration community.

UN Climate Talks: Prominent Business Group Holds Dialogue, Welcomes New Members

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy

As in previous years, USCIB joined its global business partners to hold a Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) Business Dialogue during a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference. This year’s UNFCCC 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) is taking place in Madrid, Spain under the Chilean presidency.

This year’s Business Dialogue was hosted by the Spanish Confederation of Employers (CEOE) on December 8. Reaching an important milestone, this year’s Dialogue commemorated twenty-five years of business cooperation and involvement in the UN climate process. The latest Dialogue served as an important forum of discussion for emerging issues and institutional changes that are necessary to mobilize business knowhow and resources at every stage of climate policy and action.

BizMEF Business Dialogue at COP25

Senior government representatives of Chile, the European Commission, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom joined World Trade Organization (WTO), International Organization of Employers (IOE) and UNFCCC speakers at the Dialogue to share perspectives on integrated policy options inside and outside the UN climate process.

“We are here to mark this as what it must be – a turning point and inspiration to do even more and better, as well as involve more companies of all sectors sizes and nationalities on board,” said USCIB Vice President of Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy.

BizMEF members include major national and regional multi-sectoral business groups in developed and developing countries.  At the COP25 Business Dialogue, BizMEF welcomed two new partner organizations: CEOE and the Santiago Chamber of Commerce. USCIB serves as the Secretariat for BizMEF.

Please refer to USCIB’s COP25 Statement for more information on USCIB’s climate policy position.

USCIB Represents US Business Views at UN Climate Talks

The 25th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) is in the home stretch, as Ministers meet in Madrid to seek political compromise on carbon markets and offsets, as well as to set the stage for pledges of deeper cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

According to USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy, who is reporting from the field, a fundamental goal of COP25 is to complete unfinished business from the previous year, specifically as it relates to the Paris Agreement and its provisions for carbon markets and offsets, often referred to as “Article 6”.

“Avoiding double-counting crediting for carbon sinks and determining whether a percentage of the value of carbon trade transactions will be allocated to developing countries are two unresolved issues for the business community here at COP25,” said Kennedy. She also noted that the validity of the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon “currency” to the new Paris Agreement carbon regime is also under development.

An additional imperative is the need for deeper and faster cuts in GHG emissions that are required to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, and to get on track to a proposed 2050 net-carbon neutrality objective.

Additional issues yet to be resolved, but are closely being monitored by USCIB, are common timeframes to be covered by voluntary national GHG reduction pledges, known as NDCs, financial support to developing countries for GHG reductions and technology cooperation, as well as how to treat compensation for loss and damage from climate change-related impacts.

Over 30,000 are attending this COP, including Michael Bloomberg, Al Gore, John Kerry, Harrison Ford and other prominent figures have joined high-level government representatives, UN agencies and NGOs.

USCIB’s delegation, led by Kennedy and USCIB Policy Associate Claudia Herbert Colfer, included member representatives from Arkema, Bayer, Chevron, Mars and Novozymes. USCIB has been tracking the complex discussions, meeting with U.S. and other government delegations and partnering with key business groups.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) serves as focal point for business, convening daily business briefings to share intelligence and organizing the UNFCCC Business Day, which took place on December 6.

The two-week COP began on December 2, and will run through December 13, under the Presidency of Chile. COP25 was moved to Madrid, Spain following civil unrest in Chile.

USCIB Statement: 25th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties

COP25 in Madrid, Spain
Photo credit: UNFCCC

USCIB issued the following statement on December 6 for the 25th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Conference of the Parties (COP25). The statement reflects U.S. business priorities.

For the 25th year, USCIB is participating in deliberations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid. USCIB joins with many others in highlighting the critical importance of inclusive multilateralism as a means to increase pace and impact to meet climate commitments and objectives, involving all societal partners, including the private sector. Economic policies that drive growth and create jobs in the green economy will be critical to generate the necessary resources and enable business to make its strongest contributions to implementation of the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement, and to sustainable development.

Since its conclusion in Paris in 2015, USCIB has supported the Paris Agreement. USCIB recognizes and expresses its deep appreciation to U.S. delegations for attending and engaging responsively with U.S. business at UNFCCC meetings. We continue to encourage the Administration to remain at the Paris Agreement table to advance and defend U.S. environmental protection, economic growth, innovation and competitiveness, as it has done consistently in the UNFCCC since COP1.

USCIB recognizes that urgent action to tackle climate change is needed on all fronts. According to the IPCC, reducing future climate-related risks in the context of sustainable development will depend on the upscaling and acceleration of far-reaching climate mitigation and both incremental and transformational adaptation. In this regard, business investment, innovation and action, working in partnership with governments, society and other stakeholders will be vital.

We continue to call for the commitment of all governments to this global effort, so that business and government can work together to enact economically sound policies that:

  • Promote development, deployment and use of cleaner and more efficient technologies and energy sources
  • Enhance sustainable energy access and security in all countries
  • Utilize markets and market-based approaches to animate least-cost GHG reductions, working through multilateral trade
  • Drive investment in innovation for mitigation and adaption
  • Seek to strengthen synergy across multilateral trade, investment and climate policy frameworks

As we work to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, we need to include all of society’s stakeholders working together towards a sustainable path for communities, workers and the climate that leaves no one behind. Of particular importance will be government education and training policies that are inclusive and support workers and their communities in securing the skills, capabilities and investments needed to thrive in the face of transformative change.

We share the concern about the need for more rapid and widespread progress toward the Paris goals, and encourage renewed efforts to get back on track, in particular with relation to Article 6.

We welcome ambitious aspirations on the part of organizations and companies and look forward to mobilizing the best of business forward in addressing this critical global challenge, delivering energy access and security, job creation and shared economic prosperity.

USCIB Attends UN Biodiversity Deliberations as Accredited Organization

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) has just concluded a scientific and technical round of deliberations, held from November 25 – 29. USCIB Vice President for Environment, Energy and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy attended the meetings in Montreal, representing USCIB as an accredited business organization, and as the only U.S. private sector group on hand for the session.

The UN CBD is currently developing a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, to be finalized in October 2020 at its 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15), which will be hosted by China. According to Kennedy, the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will be a comprehensive agreement that will include new targets relating to the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The Montreal CBD meeting reviewed a wide range of topics including scientific assessments of biodiversity and ecosystems, Digital Sequencing Information (DSI), links between climate change and biodiversity, as well as emerging issues.

USCIB is re-engaging in the UN CBD process following discussions in USCIB’s newly launched Biodiversity Working Group, working closely with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Working Group and the Global Industry Coalition (GIC).

Following the meeting in Montreal, Kennedy stated that, “Since the U.S. has never signed the UN CBD or its Protocols on Bio-safety and on Access and Benefit Sharing, USCIB is currently assessing potential impacts and opportunities for its members while tracking the process leading up to COP15.”

UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 25)

UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP-25)

December 2-13

Madrid, Spain

IFEMA – Feria de Madrid

The COP 25 will take place in Spain. The pre-sessional period will take place on November 25 – December 1, 2019. COP 25 / CMP 15 / CMA 2 will be organized at IFEMA – Feria de Madrid

BSR Conference 2019

BSR Conference 2019

November 12 – 14, 2019

San Jose, California

The annual BSR Conference is one of the longest-running and most well-regarded sustainability conferences, providing a space for thought-provoking conversations to identify solutions to the most complex global challenges. The Conference convenes more than 800 participants from around the world, including senior executives from Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and governments.

For more information contact Mia Lauter (mlauter@uscib.org).

Focus on Sustainability, New Technologies at 2019 World Trade Symposium

USCIB once again sponsored the World Trade Symposium this year November 6-7 in New York. The Symposium, hosted by Finastra and programmed by The Economist Events, brought together researchers, government officials and private sector leaders to discuss “Trade in an Uncertain World.” According to USCIB Assistant Policy and Program Manager Daniella Goncalves, several themes emerged throughout the Symposium, including the impact of new technologies on trade and investment, the need for greater interoperability of new technologies, the importance of sustainability to trade and investment and the continued importance of free trade.

Political uncertainty took center stage during the event’s discussions. The rise of populism and protectionist policies, as well as perceived lack of efficiency and productivity in multilateral fora, were identified as threats to be addressed. Many participants expressed the need to reform multilateral institutions and reaffirmed their support for trade liberalization. The need for U.S. leadership in such reform and trade liberalization activities was highlighted as a priority. Participants were in agreement that the restoration of predictability, reciprocity and fairness is required to bolster global trade and investment.

Digitization has the ability to drive down costs and speed of getting goods to market, but standardization of data protection and date flow regulation are priorities. The importance of regulating data flows and the need for standardized data protection laws, new technologies and the issue of illicit trade were highlighted by several panelists, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) Deputy Director-General Ambassador Alan Wm. Wolff, Research Professor of International Affairs & Director of Digital Trade & Data Governance hub Susan Ariel Aaronson and President of the Mediterranean Shipping Company Fabio Santucci.

The use of blockchain was characterized as a means to more efficiently engage in trade and investment, as well as increase sustainability through decreased paper usage. However, interoperability of blockchains and standardization of regulatory frameworks remain hurdles to wide-spread deployment of this technology.

It was noted that the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is working with an Asia-based partner to develop a blockchain technology to enable traceability and tracking of goods. The goal ultimately is to promote interoperability among various blockchain networks and technology platforms.

Recognizing the rise of consumer interest in sustainability, the issue of sustainable trade and investment was discussed. According to the panelists, millennial consumers are driving interest in and profitability of sustainable goods and services. Trade has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty; to continue to see the benefits of trade, growth needs to be inclusive. USCIB is actively advocating on these important issues in various multilateral fora, including at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris.