An interesting study from CERNA came out recently. Researchers from the team working on Technology Transfer and Climate Change (linked to the OECD) were looking at climate-related technology innovations over 25 years.

They found that Kyoto has accelerated their development, but that there is little evidence of the transfer of these clean technologies from the developed to the developing world. Based on patents taken out between the late 70s and 2003, they look at renewable energy technologies, as well as various other “cleantech” innovations, such as energy conservation in buildings, energy-efficient lighting and CCS.

The Kyoto link is that whilst innovation in all technologies (climate-related and otherwise) was growing at the same pace until the mid-nineties, climate change technologies are now apparently developing much faster. Furthermore, in Annex 1 nations, innovation in climate mitigation technologies has been growing at 9% per year on average between 1998 and 2003. However, no growth rate was observed in the US and Australia.

They measured tech transfer by looking at the share of inventions that are patented in other countries beyond the country of origin. Only 18% of clean-tech patents were extended beyond developed countries to developing countries. Indeed, three-quarters of the innovation transfers from one country to another were among developed countries.

Clearly this is not good news for adaptation. For developing countries, mitigation and adaptation will go hand in hand in the long term. If tech transfer is not happening fast enough, they will not be able to benefit from the technologies that will help them achieve low-carbon growth. There needs to be more effort from developed countries to ensure that advances in technology are shared globally, on a greater scale, and faster.

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