Author: Dafydd Elis

Windmills between Malmo and Copenhagen (Image by: nosha)

Windmills located between Malmo and Copenhagen (Image by: nosha)

It’s crunch time in Copenhagen: the governmental leaders are here and they will have to find an agreement during the next two days if they are to leave with their credibility intact. Having now seen two official drafts of the text being discussed by AWG-LCA, it’s possible to glean some insights into the direction in which negotiations over technology transfer are moving.

Technology transfer is one of the five negotiating themes that have been under negotiation for the last two years as part of the Bali Road Map. There are two key questions surrounding technology transfer. The first is architecture: what institutional framework will be in place after 2012 to govern technology transfer activity? The second is financing: how much money will be available for technology transfer and who will decide where this money is spent?

In the period leading to COP15, the Contact Group on Enhanced Action on Development and Transfer of Technology debated a range of possibilities for both these issues.

On architecture, there is broad consensus that some kind of central entity will be required – perhaps an Executive Board for Technology – that would play a coordinating role in the new technology transfer arrangements. There is also a good level of support for technology-specific and regionally-specific co-ordination and planning.

But there were also a number of areas of disagreement between the negotiating blocks, particularly on the issue of funding. Not all the negotiating groups agreed that a specific financing fund for technology transfer would be required, or what form that fund should take. The question of intellectual property rights has also created divisions across the board.

The first official draft text produced during COP15, which was issued last Friday, did little more than to formally articulate these areas of agreement and disagreement. It proposed an Executive Body on Technology or a Technology Action Committee with overall responsibility for accelerating the development and transfer of climate-related technologies. This would be accompanied by a Consultative Network for Climate Technology, supported by regional technology centres, to provide technical assistance to developing countries

On finance, Friday’s text left all the options – including a separate mechanism for technology transfer – on the table. Given the sensitivity of the financing issue this wasn’t surprising.

Today’s new draft text reflects progress in the negotiations over an institutional framework. In what appears at the surface to be a classic semantic compromise, the two competing options of an Executive Body or an Action Committee have been amalgamated into a ‘Technology Executive Committee’.

Behind these semantic changes in the high-level text, there lies a considerable amount of detail, which is elaborated in one of the draft Addenda published yesterday by the AWG-LCA. The addendum proposes that the Technology Executive Committee will be responsible for directing technology transfer activities (including developing technology road maps, performing policy analysis, and developing criteria for financial support capacity building), while the Technology Network will be used to deliver the support and advise developing countries on their use and development of new technologies.

There are a number of square brackets in the text, and the section on intellectual property rights is particularly heavily punctuated with the all-too-familiar [s and ]s. And the financing arrangements still appear decidedly unclear: the draft high-level text contains proposals for Finance Board, a Finance Fund, a Finance Facility, as well as a review or reform of the GEF.

Today’s fundamental disagreements over the content of the draft texts shows that nothing is certain in these negotiations, so any or all of these proposals may of course change over the remainder of COP15. But it appears that some form of agreement is solidifying over technology transfer: of all the issues on the table, it is perhaps the one that looks most hopeful.

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