Technology Transfer for Climate Change

Climate Action Network – New Submission on Technology Framework at UNFCCC

The Climate Action Network just put out a submission on the development of the new technology framework at the UNFCCC.  It’s available here:

In the Paris Agreement parties agreed that a new Technology Framework was needed to consolidate the current work and provide further guidance to the technology institutions and parties of the UNFCCC.  Specifically, the Decision adopting the Paris Agreement (1/CP.21) states:

  1. Requests the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to initiate, at its forty-fourth session (May 2016), the elaboration of the technology framework established under Article 10, paragraph 4, of the Agreement and to report on its findings to the Conference of the Parties, with a view to the Conference of the Parties making a recommendation […] for consideration and adoption at its first session, taking into consideration that the framework should facilitate, inter alia: (a) The undertaking and updating of technology needs assessments, as well as the enhanced implementation of their results, particularly technology action plans and project ideas, through the preparation of bankable projects; (b) The provision of enhanced financial and technical support for the implementation of the results of the technology needs assessments; (c) The assessment of technologies that are ready for transfer; (d) The enhancement of enabling environments for and the addressing of barriers to the development and transfer of socially and environmentally sound technologies;

as always, the work of the SBSTA has been delayed, and nothing was adopted at the 2016 Marrakesh COP.  I hope and believe that it will be adopted at the 2017 COP and parties have made submissions (available at: on what they think should be involved, as have NGO observers.  Setting aside my real worry that by failing to put forward a proposal text themselves, the African group that first proposed this has left themselves at the mercy of the secretariat and the snowballing of input gathering, I think CAN has put forward a really strong contribution to the thinking about technology at the UNFCCC.

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What is the Paris Climate Agreement’s new Technology Framework about?

In the Paris Agreement countries agreed that a new Technology Framework was needed. Specifically, the Agreement states:

Article 10(4) – A technology framework is hereby established to provide overarching guidance to the work of the Technology Mechanism in promoting and facilitating enhanced action on technology development and transfer in order to support the implementation of this Agreement, in pursuit of the long-term vision referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article.

The framework is only directed at the current Technology Mechanism (The Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN)). It does not address countries’ individual responsibilities to provide financial or technology support and does not reference or impact Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which are the primary ways in which country commitments under Paris are articulated. This means that the framework is the only real substantive outcome on technology from the Paris Agreement. As has happened before, all the text on financial support for technology and on intellectual property dropped out. The pattern of developing countries settling for institutional tinkering over substantive commitments on technology continued in Paris.

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Tech in Paris 2015: Institutional tinkering instead of real substance

Looking at technology in the Paris Agreement its difficult to avoid a deep sense of déjà vu, all over again. As in Cancun, Durban, all the way back to the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, the technology text and decision seems doomed to be reduced to more tinkering with the design of technology institutions rather than substantive commitments on technology support, policies and measures. In the Paris negotiating text, all substantive commitments, including on intellectual property, that had been included in the Geneva text have all but disappeared, reduced to generally vague mentions in optional paragraphs 7.4 and 7.5.  The proposed decision text focuses primarily on the never-ending saga of technology needs assessments and only in paragraph 50 provides for specific commitments by developed countries on intellectual property (IPRs), and financial support.  However, the largest amount of technology text and energy is aimed at the establishment of a new technology framework which is to be developed by the new Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee (IPC) and adopted by the CMA at its first session.  The details of what this framework will entail remain unclear but are likely to be drawn from the 4CP/7 framework on technology needs assessment; technology information; enabling environments; capacity building; mechanisms for technology transfer. History shows that the only elements of that framework that led to implementation were the TNAs. Technology Information remained largely a failure under TT:CLEAR and enabling environments in developed countries were never addressed and remained a subject of contention. Mechanisms for technology transfer were reduced to the Expert group on technology Transfer (EGTT) talk shop, and the less said about capacity building the better.  Any new framework must not only improve on this less than stellar record but must provide for specificity on activities to be taken by key stakeholders: the developing countries; the developing countries; and the technology institutions – the CTCN and the TEC.

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