Business & UN

Getting down to the business of climate change in Bali

  • 10 December 2007

Writing in the Indonesian newspaper The Jakarta Post, on the occasion of the UNFCCC in Bali, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce Guy Sebban outlined four practical issues that must top the agenda: deepen business-government engagement, craft policy frameworks that spur greater business investment; encourage the use of all energy options; and embrace policies attuned to the wide range of national and sectoral requirements.

The article appeared in The Jakarta Post on Monday 10 December 2007. 

Getting down to the business of climate change in Bali
By Guy Sebban

To keep up the tempo in the talks this week at the UN Climate Change Conference, four practical issues must top the agenda: deepen business-government engagement, craft policy frameworks that spur greater business investment; encourage the use of all energy options; and embrace policies attuned to the wide range of national and sectoral requirements.

COP-13 in Bali is an opportunity to further develop a process that will lead to a long-term climate regime that will involve all nations and provide business with the clarity that it needs to plan and undertake long-term investments.

Ministers and negotiators meeting in Bali must bear these four issues in mind, particularly as business will deliver most of the effort, financial resources and technological solutions to help put all countries on the path to cleaner development and to combat the risks of climate change.

An analysis by UNFCCC indicates that industry’s contribution will be 86% of the total investment. The International Energy Agency’s forecast of investments required to satisfy growing energy demand continues to mount, set at $20 trillion by 2030.

We are well aware of the challenges, but we also see opportunities for progress and for new markets in the move to cleaner energy, development and lifestyles. As businesses operating all over the world and in every industry sector, we urge countries and other important players to turn their brainpower and resources to finding ways to lift countries out of poverty and make progress on technologies that efficiently utilize the planet’s resources. We urge them to do so not just in the climate change negotiations, but in the WTO, G8 and other key discussions, to encourage technology cooperation and cleaner investments by strengthening trade regimes and other enabling frameworks.

More frequent substantive dialogue between business and government must be a regular component in the global talks taking place within the UNFCCC, and in a host of important forums, including the G8, the Asia- Pacific Economic Community, and the U.S. Major Economies Initiative, among others. We saw how productive such discussion was in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is to be commended for its efforts to involve both scientists and business people in addressing potential impacts and solutions.

Ongoing discussions in these forums must focus on how to lower barriers for business to invest in clean technology, and how to promote public-private partnerships.

Partnerships between the public and private sectors must be significantly multiplied worldwide to increase the role of business in technological cooperation and to raise foreign direct investment by business on the massive scale that is required. Developing countries especially need these partnerships to nurture their nascent economies and societies.

For these partnerships and investments to perform to their fullest, the right legal and regulatory frameworks must be put in place, including: open markets, strong institutions, protection of intellectual property, respect for the rule of law, and stable regulations founded on sound economic analysis.

Above all, the policies which emerge from the UN negotiations in Bali and other forums must be flexible enough to allow business to respond in a multitude of ways. Permitting a diversity of regional, national and sector-by-sector approaches will allow business to key in on the most efficient and cost-effective ways to mitigate carbon emissions and to adapt to the fallout from climate change.

Flexibility and diversity are needed to meet the widely-varying energy needs of countries around the world. All viable energy options must remain on the negotiating table. This is not the time to rule out technologies or energy sources.

As the most representative business organization in the world, with hundreds of thousands of member companies in all sectors spanning more than 130 countries, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is uniquely placed to voice business views and to help build consensus for a post-2012 international framework to effectively address climate risks.

ICC has been working for years in concert with governments and international organizations to find global solutions to climate change, whether in partnership with other business organizations, with national governments through the G8 or the WTO, or via its privileged consultative status with intergovernmental bodies, including the United Nations.

Businesses everywhere have already made major changes in the way they operate, introducing new products, services and processes that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Recent examples include: ABB and WWF teamed up in Ngarambe, Tanzania, training local people to run the power supply, installing underground electricity cables and teaching the villagers sustainable forestry. Suez installed street lighting in 42 shantytowns of Casablanca. Chevron is developing the first hydrogen station to power shuttle buses in Orlando, Florida. To respond to predictions of more frequent droughts in South Africa, utility Eskom installed dry cooling in some of its power plants, reducing water use in them by 90%.

The challenges ahead are complex. The opportunities are many, but only if we cooperate closely and carefully structure policies that respect national and regional priorities. Society can find solutions and prosper while addressing climate change, but only if we keep an open mind, allow ideas to come forward, and get countries and businesses to work together.