Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Business Community's Silence on United Nations Climate Change Negotiations

The business community must assume some of the responsibility for the lack of results at the UN climate talks last year in Copenhagen (COP15). However, the failure to produce a binding agreement at COP15 has not derailed UN efforts to secure a global agreement on climate change.

UN sponsored climate change talks will resume in Bonn on May 31, 2010. These talks are a precursor to a second round of UN Climate Talks convening on November 8, which culminate in COP16, scheduled to take place between November 29 and December 10 in Cancun, Mexico.

COP16 will be the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, there are several issues thwarting progress on a global climate change agreement.

Yvo de Boer, whose resignation as the executive secretary of the UNFCCC, takes effect on July 1 of this year, said, "It is incredibly important for my successor to tackle trust building and be sensitive when creating the implementation architecture to the needs and concerns of developing countries," said de Boer. "However, to mainly get the developing countries on board, the developed world needs to push through short-term financing to provide more confidence for countries such as India and China and that they are not shifting economic imbalances to them," De Boer said.

Even though a legally binding agreement may have to wait until COP17 in South Africa, De Boer expects to see crucial progress at COP16 this year. "The idea for the meeting in Cancun is to reach what I expected for Copenhagen," said De Boer. "The meeting will create an international architecture in adaptation, mitigation, technology and finance that will create in the medium and long term a broader framework for sustainable development," he said. A formal treaty would follow.

One of the most troubling issues concerns the conspicuous absence of the business community. "Business is not involved enough and there is insufficient public/private dialogue. What I want to see is the private sector entering a dialogue with the public sector to draft a policy, rather than just follow a policy the public sector decides on alone," said De Boer, adding it was the private sector that will ultimately deliver the deep cuts in carbon emissions that are required.

The business community's silence is not only detrimental to the planet, it effectively excludes critical expertise vital to crafting climate change solutions. Avoiding the issue is not a viable option. It is time for the business community to step out of the shadows and participate in the construction of a new greener economy.

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