European Roundtable of Climate Business Initiatives

First European Roundtable of Climate Business Initiatives

In the recent years a conside-rable number of new corporate initiatives were founded in Europe which focus on climate protection. In the 90ies the European Business Council for Sustainable Energy (e5) and its sister association BCSE used to be the only trans-sectoral international business groups which focused on reforming structures of power supply and world-wide climate protection, for example by establishing the corporate campaign emission55 which aimed at the ratification of the Kyoto protocol. But recently new initiatives for climate protection have been founded by European business. The current popularity of climate-related business initiatives is, no doubt, beneficial but also stresses the demand for improved communication.

Therefore, on the occasion of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, e5 as most experienced climate business organisation initiated a conference to gather all new climate business initiatives. Aim of this conference was information exchange concerning activities and positions of the espective groups and first steps for a common agenda. e5 won over the energy supply company E.ON as sponsor and supporter of this approach. 12 transsectoral business associations intensely involved with climate protection participated in the First European Roundtable of Climate Business Initiatives, held on May 16th in Berlin.

The Berlin Declaration

As a consequence of the debate and because of the political relevance of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm it was decided to make use of the Business Roundtable as an ad-hoc-platform on the spot to work out a joint business call concerning the topical negotiations which could be maintained by the participating initiatives.

This “Business Call for Action on Climate Change“ demands, in order to safeguard investment security, an agreement by the participating governments at the next climate conference in Bali (December 2007) to conclude the post 2012 negotiations by an international climate regime in 2009. The simple fact that international initiatives like this usually require complex and lengthy negotiations between cooperating partners marks the extraordinary nature of the result, facilitated by the momentum of the meeting. By the initiative of several participants of the Roundtable additional business associations from different branches of industry were encouraged to sign the business call which rapidly became known as “The Berlin Declaration”.

Finally the „The Berlin Declaration“ was backed by twenty-four associations which represent several hundred companies from across three continents (Europe, America, Australia) and in sectors as diverse as energy and water supply, transport and logistics, retail, telecommunication, electronics, insulation manufacturers, chemicals, media, care and foods products, finance industry, health and personal care products, pharmaceuticals, law firms and service providers in the field of renewable energy and emissions trading – an alliance remarkable for its broadness.

For the 4th Session of the Dialogue on Long-Term Cooperative Action, held in August 2007 in Vienna, a group of business initiatives, including e5, the BCSE from Australia, the USA and the UK, the Global Wind Energy Council and International Carbon Investors and Services (INCIS), was able to launch an intervention which, for the first time, made use of the combined authority of all supporters of the European Roundtable of Climate Business Initiatives. The intervention as a part of the exchange of views on next steps in the framework of the UN climate convention demanded an end of negotiations in 2009 and a legally binding agreement for the time after 2012 to underpin climate responsible investment and accelerate the deployment of renewable and energy efficient technologies in the coming decades. It differed from the statements of cumbersome business associations which cannot finally make up their minds to support a legally binding framework.

Second Roundtable of Climate Business Initiatives

During the First Roundtable of Climate Business Initiatives, an unanimous desire for another meeting was voiced frequently by the participants. Therefore, a Second Roundtable of Climate Business Initiatives was held on November 22nd 2007, again at E.ON’s Berlin branch office. The representatives of E.ON and e5 were joined by representatives from twelve organisations.

The success of the Berlin Declaration and the growing pressure towards proactive decisions it helped to bring about motivated the participants to make an appearance at the international climate negotiations in Bali (COP 13). Furthermore, in order to support the negotiation process the idea of a business scorecard was born. Comparable to personnel scorecards in some companies which inform employees concerning their strengths and weaknesses and aim at improving their performance the Bali scorecard was intended to likewise motivate the delegates of the negotiating states. Thus, the business coalition intended to urge the governments to move quickly. It was decided that the business scorecard would be presented at a special side event which would be scheduled close to the end of the negotiations. The Second Roundtable once again enlarged the alliance of business initiatives and additional meetings were agreed upon.

”ACT NOW!” : The COP 13 Side Event for the Berlin Declaration – Nusa Dua, Bali

The business side event organized by e5, the Global Roundtable on Climate Change (GRoCC) and other business associations, proved to be well-named. The side event was scheduled for the evening of the very first day of the negotiations, Monday December 3rd, in order to send an unmistakable message to the delegates of the participating states. This intention was stressed by the name of the event: „Act now! Trans-sectoral business calls for action on climate change.“

Sebastian Gallehr (Chief Executive Director of e5) opened the Side event by presenting the Berlin Declaration. He pointed out a number of signifying observations that indicate auspicious change throughout the business community. The fact that there were no contraproductive measures by the non-proactive players indicates, according to Gallehr, a significant change of the general scenario. As more and more corporations understand that a proactive business strategy means auspicious business opportunities plus investment security they join the camp of the business initiatives while only those unwilling or unable to discard their outdated views remain stuck in inflexible structures.

Gallehr explained the cooperation with E.ON and the history of the roundtables and presented their demands, especially those contained in the Berlin Declaration – “23 Business Initiatives call for Action“. The considerable economical weight of the proactive camp is made apparent by the impressive list of supporters of the Berlin Declaration. It consists of more than a thousand companies providing labour for more than a million employees. The turnover of these companies exceeds a trillion EUR.

Dr. David Downie, Director of the Global Roundtable, stressed the importance of communication between business and science which provides incentives and stimulating impulses for scientists. Dominique LaFontaine, CEO of the Clean Energy Council (Australia), summed up the positive developments on her home continent. She clarified that the Australian clean energy industry is ready to deliver solutions to address climate change and participate in a legally binding carbon market“. Jim Wolf, Chairman of the Climate Change Task Force of the US BCSE and President of Global Policy Associates (US), commented on the recent political developments in the United States and their significance for the proactive cause. Dr. Ignacio Campino (Representative of the Board of Management for Sustainability and Climate Protection, Deutsche Telekom) presented the demands of the “2° – German CEOs for Climate Protection” and stressed the importance of a wider perspective. Kate Hampton, Head of Policy, Climate Change Capital, and President of International Carbon Investors & Services (INCIS), presented the ambitious investors‘ expectations concerning the Bali Negotiations. The finance industry needs a long, loud and legal resumption of the Kyoto regime.

In spite of the early date – many delegates and observers had not arrived yet – the side event was one of the evening events of the first day of the negotiations that attracted a considerably large audience, visitors from the press and civilian organisations as well as from the ranks of the delegates. It was rounded off by a reception sponsored by Deutsche Telecom.

Berlin Declaration & UNFCCC: The Bali Intervention

It was one of the main objectives of e5 to bring the force gathered behind the Berlin Declaration to bear at the Bail negotiations. More business associations joined the list of supporters, papers were disseminated and the international press took notice of this Europe-based initiative which did not fail to have an impact on UNFCCC: The Berlin Declaration was the base for a common intervention by e5, BCSE, UKBCSE, Australien Clean Energy Council, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and International Carbon Investors & Services (INCIS) at the opening plenary session of the AWG, presented to the assembly of delegates of the participating states.

Then and there, the demands contained in the Berlin Declaration were presented to the assembly of delegates of the participating states. The statement differed significantly from those of the conservative business camp by incorporating a demand for a legally binding framework and the request to acknowledge the AWG’s Vienna conclusions which demand reduction of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the industrialized countries by 15 – 40% until 2050 (base year 1990).

The Business Score Card for COP 13

Yet another roundtable concept made it to Bali: one of the results of the Second Roundtable had been an agreement on criteria by which to evaluate the outcome of the talks in Bali. Companies are increasingly concerned about lack of long-term regulatory clarity as they invest in and deploy clean energy technologies. The core members of the Business Roundtable met on the first day of the UN climate negotiations and developed an 8-point checklist for negotiators called the ‘Progress in Bali Business Scorecard’. The Bali intervention and the demands therein served as a base for the evaluation.

The scorecard was launched during the first week in close contacts with the press. It was also presented at the „BCSE Annual Delegate and Business Leaders Dinner“ on Saturday December 8 and, thus, created an opportunity to discuss the key elements of a post-2012 negotiating framework as well as opportunities to build upon and improve market-based approaches to reduce emissions. The high-level dinner attracted fifty guests, leaders of the UNFCCC process as well as important delegates from developing and emerging economies, among others the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer. In his official speech he reacted directly to the scorecard and expressed his optimistic view that in the end the negotiations would meet the requirements of each box of the card.

The launch of the scorecard was supported by statements by CEOs of prominent energy corporations. Dr. Wulf H. Bernotat, CEO of E.ON, voiced his opinion that “governments should agree on a long term, international, legally binding and market oriented approach”. Dr. Ignacio Galan, Chairman and CEO of Iberdrola, added that this framework should build on the Kyoto protocol. THE CEOs of Eskom, National Grid, Climate Change Capital and TRUenergy aligned themselves with these statements. Other business associations joined the initiative and supported the concept.

Finally the scorecard initiative was a joint venture by the European, United Kingdom and United States Business Councils for Sustainable Energy, the Clean Energy Council (Australia), the Carbon Disclosure Project, the Global Round Table On Climate Change, the Global Wind Energy Council, the European Climate Forum, the Carbon Market Association, the International Carbon Investors and Services, the Climate Group and the association of the European electricity industry in Europe, Eurelectric.

The difficult and dramatic negotiations on the last day were affected upon by a press conference at short notice held by the business alliance. There and then, the scorecard was employed as a benchmark concerning the previous negotiation results in order to push towards a constructive final result of the Bail negotiations. The evalua-tion was presented by Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of Global Wind Energy Council, Peter Brun, Senior Vice President of Vestas, James Cameron Vice Chairman of Climate Change Capital and Kate Hampton, President of the Board of International Carbon Investors and Services (INCIS).