Climate change

Business warns governments of the risk of inaction on climate

  • 7 December 2010
ICC Piracy

There is huge support in the business community for government efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the lack of progress towards a global framework and momentum in the negotiations poses a serious risk to that continuing interest and support.

The global business community agreed it must scale up its own efforts to find solutions to climate change, regardless of the outcome at the United Nations climate change talks in Cancun, and warned government officials that the absence of a global framework is a major obstacle to business efforts.

The need for more effective engagement and involvement of business was the key theme coming out of yesterday’s Cancun Global Business Day, led by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Opening the day, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), urged business to lead the way on climate change solutions and not to wait for government decisions. Recognizing that governments are a long way from where they need to be on the policy curve, she encouraged business to provide a push, engaging domestic governments to give them the confidence to develop a more proactive and transformative stance in the international negotiations.

“There is much more you can do even before regulation is in place,” Ms Figueres said. “If you really see yourselves as stewards of the planet, then step up to the plate. Business needs to be ahead of governments.”

The Business Day featured over 250 members of the business community from developing and developed countries, as well as representatives from government, non-governmental- and multilateral organizations. Responding to Ms Figueres’ challenge, participants highlighted the importance of cooperation, partnerships and actions by business together with governments that are necessary to secure the vast increases in investments for low-carbon technologies in developed and developing countries.

Bjorn Stigson, President of the WBCSD, told the audience: “The discussions on new international mechanisms for technology and finance to support and fund the deployment of clean technologies to developing countries ignores the fact that a global solution is already in place – it’s called business. Business develops, deploys and transfers technologies on a massive scale every day. Governments should focus on stimulating our ability to do this. The negotiations should aim to enhance this system and to provide incentives to enable the poorest countries to also benefit from these investments.”

Jean-Guy Carrier, Secretary General of ICC, said that some businesses around the world were already moving faster than governments and that investments in solutions were vital, but not the only contribution business could offer. “This is not just another forum, but part of a very historic and important process,” Mr Carrier said. “We need to carry the business messages forward at other fora as well. At ICC we have begun to do this at the G20 in Seoul with some success. There we have been able to get the attention of decision-makers. We will continue to voice the views of global business through the G20 and elsewhere.”

The event was the fourth annual Business Day organized by ICC and the WBCSD since the UNFCCC conference in Bali in 2007. The Business Day highlights the business support from developed, developing and emergent economies for the government negotiation efforts. It is also an opportunity for businesses to explore their role in addressing climate change and how to engage governments more effectively and build trust between the two groups.