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 Discusses International Environmental Policy With EPA Administrator 

L-R: USCIB VP Norine Kennedy, U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

As the 74th United Nations General Assembly High Level Session got underway, USCIB members met with the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler to discuss advancing U.S. business innovation and investment towards transboundary environmental challenges.

The meeting was a unique opportunity for USCIB members to engage with the Administrator on U.S. business priorities for international environmental engagement and public private partnerships while advancing economic prosperity and environmental stewardship at home and abroad.

“We needy enabling conditions for dialogue and partnership with the private sector in the multilateral system,” stressed USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson during his welcoming remarks. “Therefore, we do need to remove barriers to some business sectors in some parts of UN system – USCIB is working on this, and we would welcome EPA’s support in this area too,” he added.

Wheeler’s remarks focused on current environmental priorities for the EPA, such as the global water crisis, which he noted must be tackled through improving access to safe drinking water, strengthening infrastructure and preventing plastic debris from reaching oceans. Wheeler also emphasized global challenges and EPA involvement to tackle food waste.

“USCIB members had an opportunity to share perspectives on the kinds of partnerships that business and EPA can collaborate on to find solutions to global challenges, in addition to discussing the necessary infrastructure investments that are needed,” said USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy.

New OECD Reports Outlines Business Investment Contribution to SDGs

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has recently published a report on “The Contribution of International Business Investment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” The report surveys the main type of financing behind business investment in developing countries, recent trends, an evaluation of the contribution of these flows to the SDGs, and prospects going forward.

The report highlights that multinational enterprises (MNEs) have become one of the most important actors for channeling investment to the developing countries. A relatively new actor providing financing for development is the State-Owned Enterprise (SOE). Furthermore, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is one of the primary vehicles that MNEs use to invest in foreign markets and a major component of foreign direct investment. M&A inflows in developing countries starting declining already in 2012.

An increasingly important source of international investment into developing countries is China; in 2017 China doubled its M&A in developing countries to $25 billion, making it their top resource of international M&A (ahead of Japan and the US). Meanwhile, private flows align naturally with the SDGs in the area of infrastructure: SDG 6, which focuses on clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy, SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, and SDG 10 which aims to reduce inequalities.

“The report calls to action for improving the global rules for trade and investment, pursuing domestic policy reform agenda to improve business climates, and addressing new areas of regulatory co-operation,” observed USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

The OECD will be organizing a round table on investment and sustainable development on October 23, 2019, as part of the next OECD Investment Week.

UN Climate Talks Agree on Paris Pact Implementation

Norine Kennedy (center, at laptop) speaks at a business dialogue in Katowice, Poland.
Talks went down to the wire to address who pays for losses due to climate change, and how to balance responsibilities of industrialized vs. developing countries.
USCIB has urged the Trump administration to remain at the table in the UN climate process.

This year’s UN Climate Conference (COP 24) concluded late on Saturday night in Katowice, Poland, having made major progress in several key areas for American business, including on implementation of the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Over 31,000 representatives of governments, UN bodies, NGOs, business and the media were on hand in the capital of Poland’s coal-dependent Silesia province for the 24th conference of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president of strategic international engagement, energy and environment, attended the entire two-week conference. She noted that, despite rough patches that delayed reaching a resolution, the resulting “Paris Rulebook” now offers clarity and predictability for companies planning long term investment and operations relating to energy.

“Crunch issues, which weren’t resolved until the last minutes of intense negotiations, included compensation for climate change-related loss and damage, how to reference scientific findings on potential impacts of a 1.5 degree (Celsius) change in global temperatures, and how to balance reporting requirements for developed and developing countries to ensure comparability and fairness.” Kennedy said.

On the Paris Rulebook, an implementation guide for the Paris Agreement, governments reached compromises to advance accounting and reporting of national climate pledges, as well as information on support provided to developing countries by developed countries. Kennedy said the price of the compromises reached seems to be a decision to defer an outcome on a section of the Paris Rulebook relating to voluntary carbon markets until next year’s conference of the parties, when governments will gather again in Chile.

“The UN Climate Agreement is a dynamic enterprise that has evolved to reflect new science and include new issues, such as just transition,” she said. “But a constant in the UN deliberations is the imperative for business innovation, engagement and action.” USCIB has advocated for enhanced involvement of representative business and employers’ organizations in the policy and implementation discussions.

The International Chamber of Commerce once again provided support for private-sector representation at the COP. USCIB members attending the two-week session took part in the ICC Business Day, the Major Economies Business Forum Business Dialogue and in presentations of the Global Action Agenda showcasing voluntary initiatives by business and other non-governmental interests.

On December 9, USCIB presented its report, “Business Engagement in Implementing National Climate Pledges and the Paris Agreement.” This report gathers business and government experiences in framing and acting on national pledges, and identifies best practices as national governments strengthen their national climate programs, working with business and other societal partners.

“USCIB has encouraged the Trump administration to advance U.S. business interests in the UN climate talks, including the Paris Agreement,” Kennedy noted. “We support having the U.S. remain at the table to defend American economic interests that may arise there.”

The UN process will now move ahead towards a UN Climate Summit to be convened by UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierres in September 2019 in New York, then on to Chile next December.

Update from the Field: Hunting for “Landing Zones” at Climate Change Conference in Poland

Norine Kennedy at COP24
COP24 is to finalize a so-called Paris Rulebook, which will provide implementation guidance on how countries put the Paris Agreement into action.
Crucial to business will be outcomes on carbon markets.

 

The 24th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP24) began on Sunday, December 2 and will run through December 14 under the Presidency of Poland, in Katowice, Poland.  On Saturday night, the negotiating groups delivered a first round of outcomes to be taken up by the Ministers arriving for the 2nd week.  Many key business issues remain incomplete or “in brackets” in the current draft “Paris Rulebook,” intended to guide putting the Paris Agreement into action.  For the week ahead, high level government representatives will be seeking “landing zones” to resolve remaining substantial divisions.

Over 30,000 are in attendance here, including USCIB members Arkema, Chevron, Mars, Novozymes and Salesforce, joining USCIB staff Norine Kennedy and Mia Lauter in tracking the complex discussions, meeting with U.S. and other government delegations and partnering with key business groups.  Here in Katowice, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) serves as focal point for business, convening daily meetings to share intelligence and organizing the UNFCCC Business Day on December 6.

Sticking topics have included provision of how to treat compensation for loss and damage, financial support to developing countries for greenhouse gas reductions and technology cooperation, the design of elements relating to carbon markets and different rules and practices that would apply to developing and developed countries. Delegates are talking about the IPCC1.5 Special Report, worrying increases in greenhouse gas emissions and tensions in France sparked by the proposed fuel tax, since rescinded by the Government of France.

COP24 is to finalize a so-called Paris Rulebook, which will provide implementation guidance on how countries put the Paris Agreement into action.

“So far, negotiations have proceeded predictably, albeit too slowly to conclude in time,” observed Kennedy, who leads USCIB policy work on the environment and climate change. “The complexity of technical and political issues obscures the real challenge: mobilizing private sector investment and innovation at a pace and scale that would advance the UNFCCC and Paris objectives.”

According to Kennedy, the general feeling among delegates is that a fair amount of political will, particularly among high-level representatives and Ministers of Environment, will be required in order to successfully conclude.

“There is no one issue that is dominating conversations,” added Kennedy. “Rather, the sheer number of issues to be negotiated and the level of technicality those issues present is daunting for Parties to manage (or business representatives to track).”

The smaller than usual U.S. delegation here is led by Trigg Talley, and includes other State Department, Energy and EPA representatives.  Next week, Assistant Secretary of State Judy Garber and Wells Griffith (White House) arrive for the high-level portion of the negotiations.

Crucial to business will be outcomes on carbon markets. Countries seem to be falling into one of two camps:

  • The view of the U.S. is that any exchange – known as an ITMO (internationally transferred mitigation outcome) – should remain between the countries undertaking the transaction, and that both countries would agree their accounting and other arrangements accordingly.
  • Other parties take the view that ITMO approval should come through a centralized UNFCCC body, and that some share of the transactions (“a share of the proceeds”) should be allocated to a central fund or other UNFCCC-determined purpose.

Also crucial to business will be the potential adoption of the Silesian Declaration on Just Transition proposed by the Polish Presidency. Many parties support the Declaration, but others feel that they haven’t had enough time to examine the proposal.

“We are flagging the number of climate topics that are spilling into other forums and key issues, such as human rights and trade,” said Kennedy. “Following discussions with the U.S. Delegation here, USCIB has asked the State Department to stand firm against any intention to use participation in the Paris Agreement as a litmus test for trade policies among nations.”

Kennedy also observed that protesters and some social media accounts continue to complain about the presence of business at COP24, asserting that their involvement here constitutes a “conflict of interest” and interferes with the ability of governments to reach an ambitious agreement.  In the week ahead, USCIB members and staff will continue to express U.S. business priorities, working closely with the Administration to promote energy innovation and advance substantive business engagement.

G20 Highlights 2019 Priority Issues in Leaders Declaration

As Japan prepares to assume the role of host of the G20/B20 in 2019, G20 leaders issued a Declaration on December 1, outlining items needed to build consensus for fair and sustainable development.

According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, there is noteworthy focus in the Declaration on the digital economy.Of the 31 points, at least three of the top ten focus on the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation,” noted Wanner. “Points 6-7 focus primarily on potential job displacement and the need for reskilling and vocational training while point 9 draws upon the work of the G20 Digital Task Force. This underscores the importance of bridging the gender digital divide, securing the use of ICTs, and ensuring the free flow of information, ideas, and knowledge ‘while respecting applicable legal frameworks and working to build consumer trust, privacy, data protection, and intellectual property rights protections.’” Point 9 of the Declaration also calls for the establishment of a G20 Repository of Digital Policies to share and promote adoption of innovative digital economy business models.

Beyond the digital economy, G20 leaders pointed out other critical areas of work, such as international trade and investment, which serve as engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development. However, the group added that the multilateral trading system has fallen short on some objectives and voiced continued support for the necessary reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to improve its functioning. The Group also reaffirmed its commitment towards preventing and fighting corruption.

On sustainable development, leaders emphasized commitment to leading the transformation towards sustainable development and support for the United Nations 2030 Development Agenda as the framework for advancing the G20 Action Plan. Regarding the role of energy, the G20 leaders recognize the opportunities for innovation, growth, and job creation, while acknowledging the role of all energy sources and technologies in the energy mix and different national paths to achieve cleaner energy systems.

The G20 focused this year on infrastructure for development, the future of work, and a sustainable food future and a gender mainstreaming strategy across the G20 agenda.

USCIB SDG Series: Countdown to UN’s High-Level Political Forum

This year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development will be held from July 9-18 under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. The theme for the forum will be “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” focusing on the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development (included every year)

USCIB is deeply engaged in all aspects of the 2030 Development Agenda, advocating for good governance and the rule of law, economic growth, investment in infrastructure, enabling environments to foster innovation, strong public-private partnerships and above all, an open channel for business input into policy negotiations and implementation.

USCIB believes that good governance and rule of law, infrastructure, enabling environments and private-public partnerships are the building blocks of success in achieving prosperity and eradicating poverty. While much work remains, USCIB members are already doing their part to ensure the realization of these goals. Leading up to the HLPF, we will feature these goals in this publication. Additionally, we refer you to USCIB’s Business for 2030 website which showcases the private sector’s contributions to the SDG’s. Stay tuned!

2017 USCIB International Leadership Award Dinner

USCIB is delighted to honor Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of MasterCard. Each year this gala event attracts several hundred industry leaders, government officials and members of the diplomatic community to celebrate open markets and the recipient of USCIB’s highest honor.

Established in 1980, USCIB’s International Leadership Award is presented to a senior business executive who has made significant policy contributions to world trade and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. Join us for what will be a truly memorable evening!