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Report, worrying increases in greenhouse gas emissions and tensions in France sparked by the proposed fuel tax, since rescinded by the Government of France.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.

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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