Technology: A Good News Story

Yesterday UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner declared with much relish that the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) will begin to accept requests from developing countries for support for technology transfer on December 9. The full operationalization of the Technology Mechanism now emerges as the good news story of COP 19.

But the question arises: does the submission of requests from developing countries make the Technology Mechanism truly fully operational? For those who can’t stand the suspense, here are some suggested enhancements.

Global Technology Action Plan: How will the TEC know that it has dug deep enough and focused on the right technologies? A Global Technology Action Plan (TAP) platform should be developed and implemented by 2015. It could offer portfolios of optimized plans and help assess technology choices and enablers. The platform would, in effect, translate emissions pathway scenarios into corresponding Technology Action Plans that countries could choose to implement.

Technology Assessment: The terms of reference of the TM describes the transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies (ESTs), but it fails to describe exactly what “environmentally sound” means. This should not include radical and potentially dangerous solutions like extreme genetic engineering, massive biomass burning and carbon capture, or geoengineering technologies that are potentially threatening to the planet.

Funding: Initial pledges by developed countries to the CTCN are at a relatively healthy US $22 million. The problem is this: these are voluntary, one-time  pledges. Without predictable and adequate public funding, the CTCN cannot do the long-term planning clearly needed to address the climate crisis, and the technology vision will be out of reach.

The final bit of good news is that the TM will now start focusing on implementation – that will generate excitement and more confidence in the process. But let’s not stop there. Let’s go forward with the enhancements that will make the TM a key facilitator of action on climate change.

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