International Chamber of Commerce

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The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) calls itself "the voice of world business championing the global economy as a force for economic growth, job creation and prosperity." [1]

The ICC on Corporate Social Responsibility

ICC claims to champion "corporate responsibility" as a solution to the world's problems. "A growing number of companies approach corporate responsibility as a comprehensive set of values and principles," says a glossy ICC pamphlet, "which are integrated in business operations through management policies and practices and decision-making processes. ICC proposes the following definition of corporate responsibility from a business perspective: 'The voluntary commitment by business to manage its activities in a responsible way.'"

However, the same pamphlet avoids defining corporate responsibility. It states: "There is no single, commonly accepted definition of the concept of corporate responsibility, also referred to as corporate social responsibility, responsible business conduct, corporate citizenship, voluntary corporate initiatives, etc. ICC prefers the terms responsible business conduct and voluntary corporate initiatives." The pamphlet's definition of good behavior also avoids any statements on ethics or universal human rights, stating, "ICC applauds the primacy accorded to human rights by the United Nations; however, the making and enforcement of laws for protecting human rights are tasks for governments."

In 2004, the ICC lobbied fiercely to prevent official United Nations adoption of the Norms on Business and Human Rights, which were developed by a subcommission of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The Norms oblige businesses to "within their sphere of activity and influence" refrain from activities that directly or indirectly violate human rights, and establish standards for determining whether they have met that obligation as well as rudimentary mechanisms for enforcement. The ICC opposes the Norms because they violate the ICC's insistence that all standards for corporate responsibility must be "voluntary."

According to ICC representative Stefano Bertasi, "These Norms clearly seek to move away from the realm of voluntary initiatives... and we see them as conflicting with the approach taken by other parts of the UN that seek to promote voluntary initiatives." [2]

Promoting Carbon Capture and Storage

In June 2008 the ICC made a submission to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change arguing that the as yet unproven Carbon Capture and Storage technology should be included in the Clean Development Mechanism. In its submission, the ICC argued that "should CCS fail to qualify as a recognised emissions reduction option under the CDM, the cost of achieving the required emissions reductions will increase and the chances of meeting climate change goals would likely fall as a result."[1]

It also noted that "in practice it is a relatively costly, energy and capital intensive technology, albeit with the potential for future cost reduction. The adoption of CCS by the private sector will depend on the incentives provided by the carbon market and other emissions reduction policies that overcome the additional cost of CCS development and deployment."[1]

While acknowledging the technology would be expensive, the ICC signalled its clear intention that governments would underwrite its initial funding. "It is expected that most of the near-term CCS plants will be commissioned in Annex 1 countries and will receive the support that is required from host governments of those countries. However, it is also important that CCS obtains recognition as a valid abatement option in non-Annex 1 countries so that the legitimacy of the technology is established and that financial support measures are available at an early date," the ICC argued.[1] (See Clean Development Mechanism and Carbon Capture and Storage for more details).

Case studies

Contact details

38 cours Albert 1er
75008 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 49 53 28 28
Fax: +33 1 49 53 28 59

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 International Chamber of Commerce, "Carbon Capture and Storage: The Case for Recognition Within the Clean Development Mechanism], United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, May 27, 2008.

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