Global cooperation on technology
Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. Developed countries account for
the largest part of historical and current greenhouse gas emissions. However, while per-capita emissions in
developed countries are likely to stabilize (at well above the world average), the developing
countries’ annual emissions continue to rise steadily and are expected to equal those of developed
countries sometime in the early part of this century.
Developing countries will need access to climate-friendly technologies if they are to limit emissions from
their growing economies. Such technologies are essential to establishing a low-emissions industrial
infrastructure. Under the Climate Change Convention, the richest countries (essentially the OECD members)
agree to "take all practical steps to promote, facilitate, and finance, as appropriate, the transfer of,
or access to, environmentally-sound technologies and know-how to other Parties, particularly developing
country Parties, to enable them to implement the Convention."
Technology can be transferred through several different channels. The traditional channel has been
bilateral and multilateral development assistance in the form of export credits, insurance, and other trade
support. Incorporating climate change considerations into the programmes of national development offices and
multilateral development banks would also greatly increase the transfer of low-emissions technologies. The
Climate Change Convention has opened up a new channel via the government-funded Global Environment Facility
(GEF). In addition, the Kyoto Protocol establishes a Joint Implementation mechanism and a Clean Development
Mechanism to attract private and public sector funds for transferring technology and know-how to,
respectively, countries with economies in transition and developing countries.
The GEF has a critical role to play in the co-development and transfer of advanced technologies. The
GEF supports both the development and demonstration of technologies that can improve economic efficiency and
reduce greenhouse gas emissions while promoting sustainable development in developing and transition
countries. GEF projects can be used to demonstrate the technological feasibility and cost-effectiveness of
renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency options. In these cases, the GEF pays the added cost of
introducing a climate-friendly technology in place of a more polluting one.
Joint Implementation has been conceived as one way of channeling new funds into climate change
activities. JI could promote the co-development of advanced technologies and their transfer from one
developed country to another. In practice, JI will normally be carried out through partnerships between
investing companies in highly industrialized countries and counterparts in countries making the transition to
a market economy. The investing partner may provide most of the required technology and financial capital
while the host-country partner may provide the site, the principal staff, and the organization needed to
launch and sustain the project.
The Clean Development Mechanism aims to help developing countries achieve sustainable development and
contribute to the Convention’s goals. It will be guided by the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol,
supervised by an executive board, and based on voluntary participation. Project activities will result in
"certified emissions reductions" that developed countries can use to meet their own binding
emissions targets. These projects can involve private or public entities and must have measurable and
long-term affects on the host country’s emissions. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and forest sink
projects can qualify, but developed countries are to refrain from using nuclear facilities in the CDM.
Technology transfer must be accompanied by capacity building. The delivery of new hardware alone
rarely leads to "real, measurable and long-term environmental benefits" in the host country. In
many cases it is absolutely essential to strengthen existing local institutions. This includes building
managerial and technical skills and transferring the know-how for operating and replicating new technological
systems on a sustainable basis. Without such preparation, advanced technologies may fail to penetrate the
market. Capacity building also has a role to play in ensuring that new technologies are, in the words of the
Convention, "compatible with and supportive of national environment and development priorities and
strategies, [and] contribute to cost-effectiveness in achieving global benefits."