We stand at the precipice of what could be the final stroke of the LCA at COP18 in Doha, and the conversation is turning ever more to the question of how political decisions for various elements of the LCA that have not been fully resolved will be handled post-COP18. ECO sees that the discussion on technology transfer, which cuts across mitigation and adaptation, provides a stark view of what's at stake if the LCA's closing is not properly done, in the light of the sometimes yawning gap between the understandings of developed and the developing countries.
If you mark the IPCC Assessment Report 1 (1990) as the starting point, the discussion on technology transfer has been ongoing for more than two decades. That’s a lot of work to sit idle if the Technology Mechanism suddenly faced a lack of support, and a staggering missed opportunity to close the mitigation gap and address the growing need for climate adaptation.
As it now stands, the Technology Mechanism lacks full funding even on a short-term basis, its governance and reporting structure are incomplete, its linkages with other bodies inside the Convention are hampered by the chicken/egg dilemma, its cross-cutting support for NAMAs and NAPAs/NAPs is uncertain and ill-defined, and the conversation on what is likely the most political decision of all – how priorities are to be set within the TEC and CTCN – has barely been broached, if at all. Undoubtedly, some of these issues will be addressed and hopefully resolved in Doha, but some of them have little or no hope of finding true resolution in that timeframe, and some are likely to require ongoing political guidance.
As for funding, which must stand above all other issues in terms of a critical path forward, the organisation requested by COP17 to financially support the early operations of the CTCN failed to be chosen, and CTCN support disappeared with the nomination.
So how do we avoid leaving the CTCN – the technology mechanism's "boots on the ground" – up in the air?
As the shaman of Pride Rock, Rafiki, says: "It is time." Let's get those boots grounded with at least five years of interim public funding and let's go kick some adaptation and mitigation bootie! Oh, and by the way, maybe we might also find a concrete way to ensure appropriate follow-up care for all the outstanding technology transfer and other LCA issues that risk being stranded?