COP16 – Global Business Day opens with a call for business to do more

The 4th Global Business Day that the ICC and WBSCD have put together alongside COPs was opened by Christiana Figueres, the UNFCCC Secretary, at the beginning of the second week of the Cancun negotiations.

Having reached the halfway mark of the negotiations in Cancun, Christiana spoke of the progress that has been made. To no one’s surprise, we learnt that the proceedings under the Kyoto Protocol track are the real bottleneck of the negotiations.  We heard on Tuesday  that Japan won’t support a second commitment period, but Japan is not alone – Canada and Russia are also positioned in this camp. We have the feeling though that the KP is not quite off the table as yet …

The LCA may be doing better in achieving progress, but still faces some fundamental disagreements, such as:

  • the 2-degree increase limit, which is still insufficient for the low-lying island states;
  • scope of adaptation activities;
  • struggle to generate mitigation pledges that would guarantee the current 2-degree target – even though the current pledges are larger than ever, larger than the KP has achieved;
  • “green fund” – there is an agreement that finance is important, but there isn’t a clear signal that the proposal introduced by the Mexican government to establish the “green fund” to be managed by the World Bank will get agreed upon. This initiative is opposed mainly by the US.

Unfortunately for everyone, Christiana is right – we aren’t doing very well. In fact we’re not doing well at all. This year has seen the highest level of emissions ever and what’s worse, the rate of increase is rising. But I guess that was her point when she suggested that business should exert  pressure on national governments to achieve greater domestic action.

Addressing the business community, Christiana said “I assume you have all already done your baseline effort to lower your emissions, but that’s not enough”. I didn’t know she could be so funny …  Never mind. Her recommendations for new and additional business efforts were:

1) up & down the value chain – put pressure on the suppliers and educating consumers

2) contribute to transforming the whole sector your business is active in – be creative in looking at opportunities within a sector and cooperating with other businesses in your sector

3) influence domestic policies – put pressure on national governments before they come to UNFCCC meetings when positions are already prepared; voice your needs throughout the entire year.

And then came the big message – that we are stuck in the KP mess not because of governments, but because of the private sector …. (I guess particularly in those countries that don’t want to participate in the KP). We all agree that the private sector has a big role to play, but apparently the private sector is the hand break.

She recommended for the private sector from developed countries should bring in their colleagues in the developing countries because they can contribute to the solution, and because the private sector in the developing countries will be the key to success.

Well at least there we agree – facilitating the sustainable energy business sector in developing and emerging countries is the key area that REEEP has been working towards for the past 7 years.

So talk to REEEP if you want to join our journey ;-).

Maaike & Eva from Cancun (REEEP Southeast Asia & Pacific Regional Secretariat)


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