Climate change

UN urges business to become more relevant in climate debate

  • 14 December 2009

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, challenged business to make itself more relevant to the international climate change debate and to offer clear products to address climate change, which he said business had so far failed to do, beyond a national level.

Speaking during the opening session of the Copenhagen Business Day, organized by ICC and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), in partnership with the Confederation of Danish Industry, Mr de Boer’s provocative remarks sparked intense discussion and debate for the rest of the day among the 300 or so leaders from companies, governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations who had gathered at the event on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Copenhagen this week.

After the opening, participants were invited to join three different workshops to discuss short, medium and long terms pathways to a low-carbon economy with regard to infra-structure investments, technology, finance and research and development. Some two dozen chief executives participated in the CEO panel discussions in the afternoon.

Panellists and speakers at the day-long event included Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director, Oxfam; Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, Coca Cola; Gerard Mestrallet, Chairman and CEO, GDF Suez; Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever; James Rogers, Chairman, President and CEO, Duke Energy Corporation, and others.

Among the subjects discussed were how business is leading action on climate change on many fronts, including business practices, strategic planning, research and development and project implementation. The event focused on moving ahead to identify what needs to be scaled up or transformed and to discuss the policies, funding, and life-style changes that are needed to make a successful impact.

Laurent Corbier, Chair, ICC Commission on Environment and Energy and Vice-President of Sustainable Development and Continuous Improvement at Areva, emphasized during the discussions that ICC serves as the focal point for business and industry and is in a strong position to continue feeding business positions into the UN process on climate change. With its large worldwide network and consultative status with the UN, ICC holds a unique position as the official representative of business from both developed and developing countries.

Journalists from a variety of media organizations attended Copenhagen Business Day, including CNBC, Bloomberg, Reuters, Danish TV2, the Financial Times, The Times, Mother Jones, and others. A special media briefing provided journalists with business perspectives on the issues being discussed at the UN conference, which kicked off on 7 December.

ICC is maintaining a highly visible and active presence at the UN Climate Change Conference with a large delegation of business people and many events both inside and outside of the official conference venue.