U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

The Bonn Business Dialogue

By Stephen Eule

Folks familiar with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) often observe that while there's an awful lot of talking among the Parties and observer groups, there's not much discussion. Business is invited to make statements before the assembled delegations, which it is happy to do. But there are very few opportunities for a deeper exchange of views.

That's what makes the "Business Dialogue" sponsored by the Global Energy Institute (GEI) and its partners in the Major Economies Business Forum on Energy Security and Climate Change (BizMEF) such a unique and valuable event at the COPs. The Dialogue we just held in Bonn is the fifth since our first effort in Doha, Qatar back in 2011. It provides a venue for representatives from business, governments, and the UNFCCC secretariat to have the proverbial frank exchange of views.

We were fortunate this year to have the Fijian Ambassador Deo Saran (even though the COP is being held in Bonn, it is under the presidency of Fiji) attend. The ambassador not only gave some insightful welcoming remarks, he asked some penetrating questions throughout the afternoon.

The discussion centered around three basic themes: (1) transparency and the Paris Agreement "rule book"; (2) the upcoming Facilitating Dialogue to assess progress in implementing Paris; and (3) enhanced business engagement in these and other UNFCCC processes.

 Business representative included folks from the steel and energy industries as well as BusinessEurope, Keidanren, the U.S. Council for International Business, the International Chamber of Commerce, and of course GEI. Business impressed upon the governments and UNFCCC participants the value of increasing interactions with business. The quality of the discussion on sometimes very technical issues certainly helped make our case that business can be a valuable voice as the Paris Agreement moves forward. We in business are not asking for a seat at the negotiating table, but we are asking for a more formal channel for providing input. After all, at the end of the day, it will be primarily business that develops and adopts the technologies and management systems to reduce emissions.

Details of the event, including the agenda and presentations, will be available shortly on the BizMEF website