The Technology Mechanism – what it contains and what’s happening within

by Lara Shirley

As one of the five key points in the 2008 Bali Action Plan, technology and the transfer of it constitute a key part of an equitable response to climate change. A Technology Mechanism was therefore created in order to increase the quantity and efficiency of technology transfer from the North to the South.

The Technology Mechanism was proposed by the G77 and China in 2008, and was adopted in Cancun in 2010. It has two parts: the TEC (Technology Executive Committee) and the CTCN (Climate Technology Centre and Network). Both parts are under both SBI and SBSTA.

The CTCN is intended to facilitate cooperation and access in technology transfer. It has been quite inactive so far – their first Advisory Board meeting was only in May of this year. This delay was due to the discussion over who would host the CTCN: it was eventually decided in Doha that UNEP would. There was also discussion over its structure – that is, whether the Centre and the Network would be one entity, or separate. (They are separate.) The Centre is located in Copenhagen, while the Network is designed to function at multiple levels: regional, inter-sectoral, international, etc. In terms of funding,the CTCN has strong links to the Global Environment Facility – which, remember, was established by the World Bank – and a correspondingly impressive budget, at least relative to other UNFCCC funds. This year alone the CTCN has $22 million, and within five years it aims to have $100 million. (The Green Climate Fund, by comparison, has $7.3 million pledged, with only $3 million delivered.)

The TEC is more policy-oriented: it issues briefs, roadmaps, and technology needs assessments (TNAs). It should be noted that while technological need is assessed, technological risk is not – which means that dangerous technologies could potentially be implemented.

Another disputed area is that of ‘enabling environments’. In fact, it is probably the most contentious issue because it involves IPRs – intellectual property rights. IPRs are mostly held by companies in countries of the global North, which determines how those copyrighted technologies are then distributed in the South.

Many Southern countries argue that IPRs need to be loosened in order to effectively transfer technologies; Northern governments argue that Southern countries should instead adjust their economic barriers. This links into another debate over whether the focus should even be on transferring technologies from the North to the South, or if there should be more funds channeled towards fostering research and development directly in the South. It is also currently unclear where the TEC will get its funding from, and there are conflicts over whether it will apply to the GCF, which has extremely limited funds, or the GEF, which is linked to the World Bank. The Technology Mechanism has already been delayed longer than necessary from functioning properly. Whether it will be delayed further – either through more bureaucratic bickering or a continued lack of appropriate financing – will remain to be seen.

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