USCIB Participates in ICC Sweden’s Sustainability Committee Meeting in Stockholm

On the margins of the UN meeting, Stockholm+50, on June 3, ICC Sweden opened up their Sustainability Committee Meeting to the public and invited a group of speakers to discuss current environmental policy trends from a global perspective.

Representing USCIB, Agnes Vinblad, policy associate for sustainability, presented on key environmental policy developments of special importance to U.S. Business, including the recently agreed upon UNEA resolution on plastic pollution, and the preparations leading up to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27). In delivering her remarks, Vinblad emphasized the importance of USCIB’s guiding principles of open markets, competitiveness and innovation, and sustainable development and corporate responsibility for and by U.S. companies. Vinblad further mentioned the newly formed UN High Level Experts Group (HLEG) on Net-Zero Emissions Commitments on Non-State Entities, and what this development could mean for businesses and their voluntary net-zero carbon emissions pledges.  

For the section on Global Outlook on Sustainability Developments & New Regulations, Vinblad was joined by Mats Pellback Scharp, head of sustainability at Ericsson and Gabriel Lundstrom, head of ESG Investments at SEB. 

Justin Perrettson, chair of the Global ICC Commission on Environment & Energy, and co-chair of the USCIB Environment Committee, opened the meeting with an overarching presentation on global developments pertaining to sustainability and environmental policy and the role and work of ICC in these areas. 

Head of Delegation to UNFCCC at the Swedish Ministry of Environment Mattias Frumerie also participated in the meeting, speaking on goals and expectations ahead of COP27.  

“After two years of pandemic disruption, in-person meetings like this one are critical and offers valuable opportunities for discussion and collaboration,” said Vinblad, reflecting on a successful meeting. “As the U.S. affiliate of ICC, USCIB especially appreciated this meeting with ICC Sweden’s Sustainability Committee and the great value of coming together to compare challenges and opportunities across the EU and the U.S. as they pertain to environmental policy and regulation.”

Vinblad Speaks on Panel Co-Organized by ILO, UNEP and UNICEF at UN Stockholm+50

Center: USCIB’s Agnes Vinblad

USCIB participated in the high-level international meeting, UN Stockholm+50 from June 2-3 in Stockholm, Sweden, joining over 4,000 other participants. The meeting was planned as a key milestone en route to the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt later this year. Furthermore, Stockholm+50 served as a means to reinvigorate and renew international environmental multilateralism after the worst impacts of the pandemic. The meeting commemorated the first UN Conference on the Human Environment held fifty years ago, also in Stockholm, in 1972. Topics such as the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution took center stage with plenty of references to the UNEA 5.2 resolution on plastics pollution, and, to principle 1 of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration – the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. 

Representing USCIB, and as one of the few U.S. business representatives on hand, was Policy Associate for Sustainability Agnes Vinblad. Vinblad was joined by Co-Chair of the USCIB Environment Committee Justin Perrettson (Novozymes), as well as Melissa Kopolow and Melissa Estok – USCIB members from Albright Stonebridge Group.  

The U.S. Government delegation was led by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC) John Kerry and Assistant Secretary Monica Medina. USCIB was in regular contact with the U.S. Delegation in the lead-up to Stockholm+50 and Vinblad met with members of the delegation during the conference emphasizing the need to consider U.S. business views in these critical conversations.   

Nominated by IOE, Vinblad joined a panel co-organized by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the UN Environment Program (UNEP), and UNICEF on the role of private sector engagement in green jobs creation for youth. This panel was part of an official side event at Stockholm+50 titled Green Jobs for Youth and some of the key messages emphasized during the panel included: 

  • the green and circular economy may create 100 million jobs by 2030 – the private sector will stand at the core of this transition; 
  • the transition will have to be just to ensure that there will be a transition at all; 
  • green jobs in renewables and environmental protection are rapidly growing – a development clearly driven by the private sector.   

Vinblad was joined on the panel by Naoko Ishii, former chief executive of the Global Environment Facility and chairperson of the Global Advisory Board of the University of Tokyo; Vladislav Kaim, Children and Youth constituency to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (YOUNGO) Green Jobs focal point and UN Secretary General Youth Advisor on Climate Change; and Nate Williams, senior director, Economic Graph partnerships, LinkedIn. 

“Overall, Stockholm+50 furthered the trend toward convergence of current legally binding environmental deliberations, for example the development of a new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework via the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the recently adopted UNEA resolution on plastic pollution,” said Vinblad in summarizing the outcomes of the high-level UN meeting. “By allowing space to discuss all these critical topics and agreements in one joint forum, it yet again emphasized the need to act on the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution in a cohesive manner, guided by the true interconnectedness of these issues.” 

To find more details on the outcomes of Stockholm+50 and the ten Key Recommendations presented by the co-chairs Sweden and Kenya, please review this document 

USCIB Comments on Proposed SEC Climate Risk Disclosure Rule, Emphasizing Considerations for Global Companies

USCIB filed comments on June 17 on a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule on climate risk disclosure applicable to public companies. USCIB Committees on Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs, Corporate Governance and Environment all contributed to the development of USCIB’s SEC submission.

USCIB members support enhancing and standardizing climate-related disclosures, with due attention to ensure disclosures are material. In addition, USCIB members have made important commitments and are mobilizing action and investment to reduce GHGs and plan for near- and long-term risks, including those due to climate change.

The far-reaching proposed SEC rule has implications far beyond disclosure, according to USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy. “The proposed rule will significantly impact private sector climate change planning and management practices in a variety of ways, including how companies oversee, manage, assess and mitigate climate risk and impacts of climate change, the data companies collect as well as how companies assess and validate that data,” stressed Kennedy.

Kennedy also stated: “these wider considerations raise several key questions for companies doing business internationally, and therefore warrant careful consideration, and an inclusive discussion with the business community as this proposed SEC rule is further developed.”

USCIB comments concentrated on five priority areas in the proposed rule as especially relevant to American companies across a wide range of sectors doing business in the global marketplace:

  • Inter-operability of the proposed SEC Rule with current and emerging regulations, standards, and initiatives abroad
  • Tracking and reflecting greenhouse gas emissions involved in complicated supply chains, including outside the U.S.
  • Tracking and reflecting Scope 3 Emissions, including outside the U.S.
  • Unintended consequences for future voluntary climate initiatives and goals
  • Assessing Climate and Transition Risks in multiple jurisdictions abroad

“The five areas indicated are significant considerations for the effectiveness of the proposed Rule, and if not addressed, would entail substantial costs and other burdens for U.S. business, while confusing investors with copious, non-material information,” added Kennedy. “Clarification and revision in these areas would benefit the viability of the proposed rule, while reducing unnecessary burdens on U.S. companies.”

USCIB Represents U.S. Business at United Nations Preparatory Meetings on COP27

The United Nations concluded two weeks of preparatory meetings in advance of the next Climate Summit, known as COP27, which will be held November 8-18 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.  As the first official negotiations since Glasgow in 2021, this meeting brought all UN member states, UN bodies, business and other groups to discuss urgently accelerating implementation of the Paris Agreement.

According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy, who was on the ground representing U.S. business, the intense session included special presentations of the most recent scientific findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and technical roundtables under the “global stock take,” which will assess the need for and degree of additional greenhouse gas emissions reductions required to keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees C. The session also took up further development of “Article 6” measures to allow carbon trading and offsets under the Paris Agreement.

In addition, new attention is now being directed toward the private sector with respect to voluntary pledges and initiatives, such as those announced last year at the Glasgow Summit. The UN Secretary General and the UNFCCC High Level Champions have each recently announced new initiatives to review such voluntary announcements to ensure they are being put into practice.

At a meeting with members of the U.S. Government delegation at Bonn, Co-Chair of the USCIB Environment Committee Justin Perrettson (Novozymes) called out the “importance of private sector innovation to tackle the inter-linked challenges of climate change, food security and energy transitions,” and went on to highlight the need to include business in the implementation phase of the Convention.

The most contentious issues in Bonn concerned mobilizing financial resources for adaptation to impacts of climate change, and the establishment of a fund to provide compensation for loss and damage caused by climate change.

As the host of COP27, Egypt is expected to place particular emphasis on food and water security, just transition, and adaptation for resilience. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), serving as the official focal point for business in the UNFCCC, has already begun dialogue with Egyptian government authorities on key topics relating to carbon markets, the role of SMEs and ways to further increase ambition across private and public sectors.

USCIB Joins Stockholm+50 Preparatory Meeting at UN Headquarters   

Agnes Vinblad

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972, the UN General Assembly will convene an international meeting in Stockholm, Sweden June 2-3, 2022. The theme of the meeting will be, “Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity.”  

On March 28, the President of the General Assembly Ambassador Abdulla Shahid invited government delegations and civil society to partake in the Stockholm+50 Preparatory Meeting at UN Headquarters in New York. Representing USCIB, Policy and Program Associate for Sustainability Agnes Vinblad attended in person. The meeting was chaired by the Stockholm+50 co-hosts, Sweden and Kenya, with sessions organized around the three Stockholm+50 Leadership Dialogues: 

  • Leadership dialogue 1: Reflecting on the urgent need for actions to achieve a healthy planet and prosperity of all.  
  • Leadership dialogue 2: Achieving a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).  
  • Leadership dialogue 3: Accelerating the implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.  

Plenary interventions focused on topics such as mitigation and adaptation, climate finance, sustainable production and consumption, nature-based solutions, and the recommendations outlined in the UN Secretary General’s Report, “Our Common Agenda.”  

“This preparatory meeting emphasized systemic change and the need for new ways to measure economic success through a lens of sustainability and intergenerational justice with an ambition of achieving a just transition,” said Vinblad. “USCIB sees Stockholm+50 as an opportunity for business to yet again show its unparalleled ability to not only contribute to – but also take the lead on – sustainable development.” 

Adopted on June 16, 1972, the UN Stockholm Declaration was the first document to recognize the interconnections between development, poverty, and the environment. Building on this heritage, Stockholm+50 will be a global conference focused on multilateral dialogue to accelerate action on the SDGs towards the realization of Agenda 2030, while serving as a critical steppingstone for the global multilateral community on the path towards UNFCCC COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt in November.  

Building on the commemorative nature of Stockholm+50, Vinblad said that USCIB wants to fit business into that narrative, showing that the private sector has been concerned with issues related to sustainability and climate change since the inception of the Stockholm Declaration in 1972. 

USCIB On Hand at Historic UN Environment Assembly Launching Global Plastics Pollution Agreement 

The United Nations convened the decision-making UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) in Nairobi, Kenya from February 28 – March 4, hosted at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).  

At this meeting, which also commemorated the 50th anniversary of UNEP’s founding, government delegations reached agreement on the resolution, End Plastic Pollution: Towards an International Legally Binding Instrument (LBI) which sets into motion an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) to develop the LBI by end of 2024. In addition, UNEA agreed to establish a new Science-Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and Pollution, which will be developed in negotiations over the next two years, to serve as a trusted source of consensus in these areas, much in the same way that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a recognized source of scientific consensus on climate change.

USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy represented USCIB on the ground during this landmark inter-governmental meeting, involving all 193 UN member states. USCIB advocated the essential role business must play in addressing the triple environmental crisis, considering and reflecting all-of-economy realities.

“For USCIB, enabling private sector innovation will be key in limiting plastic pollution in the environment,” said Kennedy. “To unlock the full potential of U.S. business innovation to tackle plastic pollution and advance circular economy approaches, any agreement on plastic pollution needs to be flexible with a mix of legally binding and non-binding elements.”

USCIB conducted a live briefing for members from Nairobi on March 2 to pass on the most up-to-date developments, focusing on outcomes relevant to business. American Chemistry Council (ACC) Senior Director, Global Plastics Policy Stewart Harris provided insights on the business opportunities and challenges ahead in the development of a legally binding instrument to address global plastic pollution. Harris and Kennedy referenced the USCIB Letter to the Administration, which set out USCIB member priorities to the State Department and EPA.

During the briefing, Harris characterized the plastics pollution negotiating mandate as a good outcome for business and industry, enabling business leadership initiatives while also assessing effectiveness and supply chain impacts of proposed actions. Moreover, the resolutions prioritize flexibility and recognize the need to engage business in the treaty’s development. Kennedy also pointed out critical outcomes in the areas of circular economy and sustainable infrastructure, among others. 

On March 10, USCIB’s Environment Committee will convene a meeting which will include a more detailed briefing on the outcomes of UNEA 5.2 and their implications for U.S. Business.

Kennedy Advocates for Business Mainstreaming in OECD Expert Panel on Post-COP26 Action  

The OECD Washington Center co-organized an expert panel discussion on “Post-COP26: Driving Climate Action” last month. The discussion focused on how to understand and continue the momentum of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) which transpired in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021. As USCIB’s lead environment, energy and climate change expert, Senior Vice President of Policy and Global Strategy, Norine Kennedy supported USCIB members attending COP26.  

Other speakers on the panel included the Deputy Director of the Environment Directorate at OECD Ingrid Barnsley; Director of International Climate Initiatives at the World Resources Institute David Waskow, and Lead Climate Lawyer at the U.S. State Department Andrew Neustaetter.

Kennedy remarked that COP26 was noteworthy, “not just because of the turnout and the accomplishments, but also because we have never seen that kind of engagement from U.S. business – and indeed – from business at large.” Kennedy also pointed out that hundreds of CEOs attended, as well as thousands of business representatives from all over the world. With numerous and substantial voluntary pledges made by the private sector, COP26 demonstrated the unprecedented willingness of business to act on climate change.

USCIB is already starting to plan its engagement in COP27 in November in Egypt to build on these commitments and to ensure such business actions are taken into account in the Paris Agreement global stock-take, which will provide the basis for additional commitments by governments.   

Yet business received only scant mention in COP26 concluding documents. “While the outcome documents from Glasgow refer multiple times to a range of constituencies, business was barely mentioned, aside from Article 6 on carbon pricing,” said Kennedy.   

In closing, Kennedy emphasized that USCIB members support meaningful inclusion and mainstreaming of business as necessary to scale up action to keep 1.5 alive, ramp up further deployment of private sector innovation and investment and bring private sector solutions and employment, including in connection with adaptation and resilience.

To watch a recording of the panel, please visit this website.  

USCIB Calls for Private Sector Solutions and Engagement at UN Environment Assembly

The United Nations is convening a meeting of its central environmental policy body, the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) in Nairobi, Kenya from February 28 – March 4. Taking central stage at UNEA is the launch of negotiations towards a legally binding global instrument to tackle plastics pollution. Other expected outcomes include further global decisions on circular economy, green recovery, and a proposed science-policy panel on pollution.    

In a letter to U.S. Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina and other Administration decisionmakers, USCIB called for inclusion of private sector expertise and recommendations in the formative stages of that new treaty, which will have supply chain and trade impacts for every industry sector.  

Among several recommendations concerning the expected global plastic pollution agreement, the USCIB letter noted that: “UNEA 5.2 conclusions on plastic pollution should take into account the sectors and supply chains that will be impacted, reflecting potential benefits and challenges. It will be crucial to work closely with experts from the business community to reach an effective and implementable agreement that tackles plastics pollution, promotes innovation and investment, and advances a circular economy.” 

With regard to other expected decisions at the upcoming conference, USCIB encourages UNEA 5.2 conclusions that: “Ensure participation of the private sector and other stakeholders in the development of future UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reports and future work streams, including a potential Science Policy Panel. Any further steps in this area should explicitly include and provide a role for business, and refrain from setting criteria for involvement that effectively disqualify the private sector.”

USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy joined U.S. and global business representatives attending the negotiations in person in Nairobi. Kennedy stated that, “as the international community advances action on the triple environment challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, USCIB believes the private sector is indispensable to successful implementation, and we stand ready to provide business views and technical knowhow to inform these vital deliberations.” 

USCIB Meets With Australian Consul General to Discuss Mutual Interests, Future Collaboration

Left to right: Nick Greiner, Peter Robinson

USCIB had the honor of hosting Australian Consul General Nick Greiner and his colleague Mike Ryan on February 16 in the USCIB New York office.

The meeting between the Australian delegation and USCIB, which included USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy, allowed for a candid discussion of mutual interests and potential future collaboration—namely in trade and investment, climate change and digital economy, among others.

It was acknowledged that USCIB and its Australian counterpart, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), are both privileged to serve as the respective national affiliates of the three main global business organizations: International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Business at OECD (BIAC).

ACCI also serves as a Steering Team Partner on The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners to CONVINCE initiative, which is a global network of employers of all sizes that seeks to build vaccine confidence and support uptake among employees.

The Australian Consulate is located in the same building as the Australian Mission to the United Nations, and Consul General Greiner generously offered to introduce USCIB to the latter.

As COP26 Concludes, USCIB Calls for a New Inclusive and More Ambitious Approach

While COP26 came dangerously close to a “Copenhagen” breakdown over a lack of trust in the process due to last minute changes in the final text, the meeting concluded on November 13 at nearly midnight as approximately 200 countries agreed to the “Glasgow Climate Pact,” reports USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy.

According to Kennedy, throughout the final week of the intense two-week session, views had remained divided on substantive issues, most of which linked in some way to unmet finance needs, and also concerned gaps in pledged greenhouse gas reductions compared to scientific assessments of actions necessary to limit dangerous warming.

Following recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports of current national action pledges, the pressure was on to keep “1.5°C alive” and to finalize the outstanding elements – notably “Article 6” on carbon markets – of the Rulebook (the practical guidance for implementing The Paris Agreement).

“This meeting took place under numerous challenging circumstances,” added Kennedy. It was the first, major UN in-person meeting during the pandemic, held under stringent public health measures which included daily testing for all participants. COP26 was also taking place during a period of economic headwinds and uncertainty coupled with, higher energy prices. Outspoken climate campaigners inside the meeting areas and protesters outside, along with a higher-than-expected participation of more than thirty-thousand participants kept the pressure on. On the other hand, a record number of business participants on hand, including during the World Leaders Climate Summit, which comprised the first three days of the COP, signaled clear business support for ambitious climate action.

USCIB staff and members organized two U.S. business events in the final week:

  • A virtual USCIB side-event on “Infrastructure, Innovation and Investment for a Sustainable and Resilient Recovery,” featuring speakers from Duke University, General Motors and Generate Capital and
  • A Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) side-event on where business can make a running start to advance economy-wide action on climate change, in preparation for COP27. Speakers from Business at OECD (BIAC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the Mohamed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection and WorldSteel shared perspectives on converging employment, trade and energy transition policies, working with the private sector.

“In spite of unparalleled support by U.S. companies for an ambitious outcome, working with the Administration, we were disappointed by scant mention of business in the Glasgow conclusions,” stated Kennedy. “The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) served as the focal point for business at COP26, debuting new ICC papers on carbon pricing and on sustainable trade finance.”

Looking ahead to the next major UN climate meeting in Egypt in 2022, several thorny issues remain, including lingering dissatisfaction with lack of adequate finance and questions about whether high-emitting countries (such as U.S., China, India) will be able to offer enhanced pledges of emissions reductions. USCIB members will be preparing recommendations to inform the UN “Global Stocktake,” which will form a basis for future action, and continue to advocate for economy-wide approaches inside and outside the UNFCCC that advance energy access and security and substantively engage U.S. business knowhow and innovation.

USCIB’s COP26 Concluding Statement can be found here.