Article by Guest Contributor: Veronika Shirokova

MSU solar refrigerator being installed during a Spring 2009 Workshop in Guatemala. Hosted by ATC at AIDG in Xela. (Image by: jsbarrie)

COP16 saw a modest advancement in negotiations on Technology Transfer, guided by a framework established during an earlier meeting in New Delhi. Participants agreed upon the preliminary structure of a Technology Mechanism, creating a Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and a Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN).

The TEC will have an advisory and administrative role, identifying technology needs and priorities, coordinating efforts, and providing recommendations for improvement. It will consist of a panel of 20 experts, 11 from developed countries and 9 from developing countries. Parties have yet to nominate, or establish the qualification criteria for, committee members.  The framework is sufficiently rigorous for the TEC to begin its activities immediately after suitable candidates are found.

The CTCN, consisting of a centre and a large network, will serve an operative role in technology transfer on an international to regional scale. It will function mainly to carry out the TEC’s directives, as well as to facilitate and improve upon existing initiatives. The interactions between the Centre and within the Network are still ill-defined, and will be subject to negotiation over the following year. As a consequence, the CTCN is still far from being a working arm of the Technology Mechanism. Further, the relationship between the TEC and the CTCN is unclear, as is how the Technology Mechanism will relate to the Financial Mechanism.

Due to strong resistance from developed countries, participants deliberately omitted discussion on the contentious issue of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).  Developing countries are frustrated by the mutually conflicting conditions of the Cancun Agreements; they are being told to stop or skip over the usage of fossil fuels in favour of green energy, but are unable to access the necessary technology due to restrictive IPR. Companies may reach concessions on practical pricing and conditions, but are concerned that their patents will not be upheld in countries with weak IPR enforcement.

Overall, the climate talks in Cancun represent significant progress in the design of a new Technology Mechanism. However, technology transfer will face significant barriers due to difficulties with financing and IPR, and is unlikely to succeed until these issues are resolved.

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