In our article on 19 October 2015 we provided an overview of the forthcoming international climate change negotiations which are to take place in Paris in November and December 2015. If successful, the negotiations will result in a global agreement on tackling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this article we discuss the topic of technology in the potential agreement.

The Parties are clear on the important role technology has in supporting both reduction of GHG emissions and adaptation efforts to protect vulnerable people, economies and ecosystems from climate change. There appears to be recognition of the potential importance of reaching agreement on cooperation to promote and enhance technology development and transfer amongst the Parties (the latest draft agreement, revised following the meetings in Bonn (19 - 23 October 2015), ahead of the COP 21 meeting, reintroduces discussion options).

At COP21, the Parties will put their minds to whether one of the first steps after Paris will be to adopt a technology framework that will guide the existing mechanisms and institutions in the medium to long term, and identify ways to address barriers to deployment of technological innovations. The existing mechanisms and institutions would include the Technology Mechanism (established in 2010 to support efforts to accelerate and enhance action on climate change), the Technology Executive Committee (the Technology Mechanism’s policy arm) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (the implementation arm of the mechanism).

As noted in our article dated 29 October 2015, one of the key issues revolves around the provision of financial resources to address barriers to the deployment of technology. An option (debated in Bonn) is to use the Green Climate Fund to meet the intellectual property rights (IPR) costs of environment technologies and know-how and to provide such technologies to developing country Parties free of charge. The revised draft text also includes an option whereby developed country Parties would provide financial resources to developing country Parties to meet barriers for technology transfers (due to IPRs).

Depending on the appetite for commitment, technology development and transfer obligations could oblige, at least the developed country Parties, to finance support for strengthening cooperative action for technology development and transfer to developing country Parties. There may also be agreement to provide financial resources to developing country Parties to address barriers caused by the absence of domestic research and development (R&D) capability and to enhance developing country Parties’ access to environmentally sound technologies and know-how.

Comment

The development and deployment of technology to address climate change is recognised as a key aspect in endeavours to keep a rise in global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius. Transfer of such technology is clearly recognised as an issue. A lot rests on what may be agreed in this regard. This will not be an easy issue for the world’s political leaders who will have various interests in mind. However we can be sure that so many sectors and commentators are hoping that if an agreement in Paris is concluded, that agreement will include very strong signals that R&D programmes and technology development around the world will be supported.