25 november 2015

[4C Note: The following article was sent to us in an email from Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network - Europe.]

Business and green lobbies join forces on COP21

-- By Sara Stefanini (Politico)

For the first time, one of Europe’s largest business lobbies has joined forces with a leading coalition of environmental NGOs on Wednesday to jointly push for the EU to strengthen its climate policies � with or without a deal at the fast-approaching COP21 summit.

Eurochambres, an association of more than 20 million businesses, teamed up with Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, a group of over 120 NGOs, to issue a joint statement urging governments attending next week’s Paris climate change summit to agree on “clear national emission targets,” which could in turn “send clear signals to decision-makers and investors at all levels.”

Many business groups and leading companies in Europe have already chimed in to call for a binding international COP21 agreement. They want other countries to scale up their efforts to the level of the European Union’s 2030 clean energy and climate policies, to keep industries from shifting their operations and investment to countries with laxer regulations � a phenomenon known as carbon leakage.

CEOs from 78 companies with a combined $2.1 trillion in revenue last year did just that on Monday, publishing an open letter focused on the need for a comprehensive and agreement that covers the whole world.

Eurochambres, however, has taken it one step further, saying that while a global deal is preferable, Europe shouldn’t shy away from its leadership role.

“We do believe Europe can lead the way, as we have been leading the way for years, although in recent times we have slowed down a little,” Arnaldo Abruzzini, its secretary general, told POLITICO.

Asked if Eurochambres was worried that failure to reach a globally binding agreement could cause carbon leakage, he said: “Worried is not the right word. We are cautious. We know it would somehow change the costline in our business, but we are aware this is something we have to go for.”

The joint statement also lays out what the two groups believe the EU should do to strengthen its climate action after the COP21.

That includes accelerating the cost-effective introduction of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures and turning the EU’s energy union plan into “clear and precise” legislation that promotes emissions cuts, efficiency and renewables.

It also urges the EU to reform its underpriced and oversupplied Emissions Trading System and ensure that its revenues are used to fund emissions cuts and adaptation to climate change in developing countries.

“All of these issues go beyond what many business groups have said before,” said Wendel Trio, CAN Europe’s director.

Getting Eurochambres’ members to agree, however, was not an easy task.

The group is made up of 43 national chambers of commerce and industry, plus two transnational organizations, and 93 percent of its businesses are small and medium sized. The debate largely fell along sector and country lines.

“Certainly, in certain member states the perception is that we are pushing the bar a little bit too far,” Abruzzini said. “But we, in our governing boards at the regional level, came up with a common understanding that this is what the European business community wants.”

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