Governments reached a long-awaited climate accord on December 12 in Paris, bringing an end to four years of intensive United Nations negotiations to set a new global plan from 2020 onward, with long-term targets through the end of the century. The two-week meeting, known as the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), brought together President Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and over 150 heads of state. In addition to the governmental meetings, businesses and other non-state representatives from every region of the world presented numerous new initiatives and solutions to the climate challenge at multiple venues.
“USCIB members were on hand at COP21 in unprecedented numbers to demonstrate their commitment and stake in the accord, and we are confident that this engagement will continue,” stated USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “USCIB is ready to strengthen its involvement with the UN process to build long-term cooperation for practical and cost-effective results.”
Robinson went on to thank the government of France for organizing COP21 and shepherding the agreement to its conclusion, and noted its excellent partnership with industry including business groups such as MEDEF and ICC-France. He also commended the strong and positive representation in Paris of multiple national and international business organizations, coordinated in large part by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), for which USCIB serves as U.S. affiliate.
Unlike its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, this new universal agreement engages all countries in climate action under an international cooperative framework on mitigation, adaptation and resilience, requiring periodic reporting and review of governmental actions, Based on a foundation of national pledges and actions, the agreement calls on countries to set progressively more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets at five year intervals.
Robinson speaks to Climate TV about private-sector involvement in the Paris Agreement
While questions do remain about the feasibility of the Paris Agreement’s longer term target to eventually limit mean temperature change to 1.5 degrees C, the new treaty does recognize the need for enabling frameworks in global markets and policy necessary to mobilize business innovation and investment across all sectors. These will be essential to shift national economies and the dynamics of the global market place to help meet the agreement’s ambitious targets.
“In its over 20 years of involvement in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, USCIB has emphasized that the lynchpin for successful implementation will be private sector involvement at national and global levels,” Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s VP for Environment and Energy said. “Governments will look to business for technical input, as well as finance, investment and implementation, and we are ready to step up. Thanks to a concerted effort by USCIB and other US business groups, the agreement provides clarity on markets, while steering clear of confusion on intellectual property rights protection.“
In coming weeks, USCIB will assess the Paris outcomes and set priorities for its engagement with the first phase of the Paris Agreement, in partnership with ICC, the Major Economies Business Forum and other business organizations.