TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Sept11/01)
2 September 2011
Third World Network

Technology committee tussles over issue of chair 

Bonn, 2 September, 2011 (Meena Raman) – The first meeting of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) kicked off in Bonn, Germany on 1st September, with a tussle between developed and developing countries over the issue of whether the chair of the Committee should be from a developed or developing country.

Pending a final resolution of the matter by the end of the meeting on 3rd September, in the interim, members agreed to the appointment of two co-chairs - Mr. Gabriel Blanco of Argentina and Mr. Antonio Pfluger of Germany to conduct the work of the TEC.

The tussle over whether the first chair should be from a developing or developed country began when the TEC met to address the agenda item on “election of officers”.

Developed countries wanted the chair of the TEC to be from an Annex 1 country, while developing countries wanted a member from a non-Annex 1 country to lead the Committee. 

At the 16th Conference of Parties in Cancun, Mexico, Parties agreed to establish the TEC comprised of 20 expert members (with 9 members from Annex 1 countries and 3 members each from the 3 regions from non-Annex 1 countries of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean, 1 member from a small island state and 1 member from an LDC country).  According to the Cancun decision, the TEC was to “elect annually a chair and a vice-chair from among its members for a term of one year each, with one being a member from an Annex 1 Party and the other being a member from a non-Annex 1 Party.” The decision also states that “the positions of chair and vice-chair shall alternate annually between a member from an Annex 1 Party and a member from a non-Annex 1 Party”.

The Cancun decision tasked the TEC to implement the framework for meaningful and effective actions to enhance the implementation of technology transfer in developing countries.

The meeting was opened and initially chaired by Ms. Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.

Developed countries led by Germany, United States and Japan argued that the chair of the TEC should be from an Annex 1 country.

Mr. Pfluger of Germany said that having a chair of the TEC from an Annex 1 country would have a “good mobilizing effect in industrialized countries which would then be willing to speed up technology transfer”. The US representative, Dr. Rick Duke said that following consultations with business groups, there was strong interest from the groups in engaging on technology issues and having a chair from an Annex 1 country would boost this engagement. These sentiments were echoed by Mr. Kunihiko Shimada of Japan

In response, members from Argentina, Sudan and the Small Island States made the case for having the chair from a developing country.

Mr. Gabriel Blanco from Argentina wanted the TEC to be led by a member from a non-Annex 1 country as the Committee’s task is to enable technology transfer in developing countries and having a developing country chair would “send the right message”. He also reminded members that the Expert Group on Technology Transfer (EGTT) was chaired by an Annex 1 Party member and so are the current chairs of the Ad-hoc working groups under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. 

Mr. Nagmeldin El-Hassan of Sudan expressed similar views as Argentina and said that since the chairs of the EGTT in the past have been from Annex 1 countries, it was only fair that for a start, the TEC be chaired by a non-Annex 1 member.

 Mr. Albert Binger of Jamaica, representing the SIDs said that persons from an Annex 1 country would not understand the technology needs of developing countries. There was need for mobilization of technology on the basis of the needs of developing countries.  

In response to interventions from members, Ms. Figueres reminded Parties that that role of the chair was not to take on positions of either Annex 1 or non-Annex 1 Parties but to listen and take on the views of everyone and help move the process forward. 

Following several attempts during the course of the day to find a solution to issue, late in the evening, members agreed to have a co-chair arrangement in the interim during the course of the meeting, pending a final resolution of the matter by the end of the meeting on its last day.

The representatives from Argentina and Germany then co-chaired the meeting and discussions proceeded on other agenda items involving “strategic issues and mandated deliverables for Durban” that included the “elaboration of modalities and procedures” of the TEC.

The UNFCCC Executive Secretary had earlier informed members that the nomination of one representative from Asia was still pending with Iran and the United Arab Emirates still in consultations to determine which one of them would be a member of the Committee. (The other two representatives from Asia are China and Kazakhstan).

Figueres in her opening remarks stressed the importance of the TEC in shifting the global economy towards the development, diffusion and transfer of climate technologies on a massive scale through the Technology Mechanism which involved the TEC as well as the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). She stressed the need for these two components to work hand-in-hand with the TEC as the policy arm. She said that the “TEC was not about enabling the next steps in technology transfer and deployment but was about ensuring a quantum leap” in technology transfer to developing countries and asked members to bear in mind what measures were going to make the transformation happen. The TEC meeting continues till Saturday, 3rd September.