LIKE MOST DOCUMENTS that travel through U.N. channels, a recent proposal from Ukrainian diplomats is blanketed in jargon and buzzwords, promising to render things “integrated, holistic and balanced” and to promote “ambition.” But this proposal — brought by the Ukrainian negotiating team to this year’s U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties, COP23 — carries more substance than its language might suggest: giving the world’s biggest polluters an official say in how the Paris Agreement gets implemented.

“We have to stop forcing our corporations to do something, but making — I don’t like to say profitable — but, I like to say, make them think about environmental actives as serious business,” Taras Bebeshko, an adviser to Ukraine’s energy minister who presented the proposal on behalf of his delegation this month, told The Intercept.

Bebeshko acknowledged the role fossil fuel companies play in driving up global emissions, but he cautioned against painting them as “enemies of humankind” and was eager to have them on board in a governing role. “This concept is not aiming to replace the UNFCCC process,” he said of the Committee for Future plan. “It’s aiming to assist and make the ground … for a global agreement.”

He said he had spoken to representatives of the United States, who reacted positively to the proposal. Another Ukrainian official close to the issue told Climate Home that his country’s negotiating team has been in “permanent contact” with the United States.

The role of subnational and private actors has been debated in other contexts at COP23 as well. Business — including those who have lobbied actively against climate action — play a major role in the talks through trade associations, like the World Coal Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and they have for years attempted to shape international climate policymaking.

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