• November 9, 2017

    B-I-N-G-O at COP-23

    Stephen Eule

If it’s November 9, that can only mean one thing—it’s BINGO day!

“What’s BINGO day?” you ask. No, its not a day to gather to play a game in a church hall.  It’s the day devoted to business and industry at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP-23 meeting in Bonn, Germany. BINGO is the acronym for “business and industry non-governmental organizations” accredited to the UNFCCC, of which the U.S. Chamber is one.

The activities of BINGO day are organized and hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The day is an opportunity for business to highlight its activities, exchange views on implementation of the Paris Agreement, and provide constructive input to the UNFCCC process.

Among the festivities this year are four side events, one of which was jointly put on by Global Energy Institute (GEI)  as part of the Major Economies Business Forum on Energy Security and Climate Change—BizMEF—the international business coalition formally launched here at the Chamber about eight years ago. Since then, BizMEF has grown in numbers and stature. It now has more than 20 partners from developed, emerging, and developing economies and is one of the most influential voices of business in the UNFCCC.

The title of the side event was “The Role of Business in the Facilitative Dialogue.” Next year’s Facilitative Dialogue is certainly a topic of great interest to the business community as it will be the first chance for UNFCCC Parties to assess how the Paris Agreement is being implemented. It will be a sort of dry run for the stocktaking exercises scheduled to begin in 2022 and every five years thereafter. Although President Trump has said he intends to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the United States will still be in the agreement at least for the Dialogue and perhaps beyond if President Trump's concerns can be addressed.

The event started in front of a nearly full house with remarks from Peter M. Robinson, CEO and President, U.S. Council for International Business, who gave a broad overview of the useful role the business community could make to this process. This was followed by comments from business groups from Turkey (TUSIAD), Europe (BusinessEurope), and the United States (including yours truly from GEI) and from the ICC and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

There was general agreement among the panelists on the need for a more formal avenue for business to provide input to the Facilitative Dialogue and other consultative processes. Like other stakeholders, business will not only be an important consumer of information, but also an important producer of information, both in national and international consultative. After all, whatever comes out of the Paris Agreement and national governments will have direct effects on the entire portfolio of their operations, investment decisions, and supply and value chains. Consequently, business can contribute unique insights relevant to the Dialogue.

More than one panelist made the point that given the lag in government data, in many cases, business will have more pertinent and timely information than governments. Moreover, as one panelist suggested, the informed views that comes out of business, think tanks, academia, and others might not only be more timely but ultimately may have more bearing on questions being asked.

In many nations, business and other stakeholders participated directly in consultative processes in the run-up to Paris, with the Obama Administration being an exception. We've commented before how business and Congress were shut out of decisions before Paris, and we're confident that the Trump Administration will seek out the views of the broader business community as it formulates its policies.

We also hope that the UNFCCC seeks the expertise and experience that business is able and willing provide.