TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Sept11/02)
6 September 2011
Third World Network

Technology committee concludes meeting with compromise
Published in SUNS #7213 dated 6 September 2011

Geneva, 5 Sep (Meena Raman) -- The first and last meeting for the year of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded in Bonn, Germany on 3 September, with a compromise reached between developed and developing countries that the chair and vice-chair of the Committee "will collaborate in chairing the meetings and in executing the work of the Committee so as to ensure coherence between the meetings."

Based on this collaborative arrangement, members agreed to the appointment of Mr Gabriel Blanco of Argentina as the TEC's first chair and Mr. Antonio Pfluger of Germany to be the vice-chair.

This compromise was reached following an intense tussle and exchange between members over whether the chair of the Committee should be from a developed or developing country. (See TWN Info. Service on Climate Change, Sept11/01  dated 2 September 2011.)

Developed countries had initially 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.

This issue threatened to derail progress in the discussions, with one senior member from a developing country expressing disappointment during the meeting that it seemed that developed countries did not regard developing country members as having the competence to lead the TEC.

While being consistent with the decision adopted in Cancun, Mexico at the meeting of the 16th Conference of Parties for the TEC 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 agreement reached in Bonn reflected what Mr. Jukka Uosukanien of Finland described as "confirming the spirit of how we are working", which in effect was a co-chairing arrangement.

It was also agreed that after the completion of the term of the chair (for 1 year), the chair will be nominated as vice-chair and vice-versa and after the two year cycle is complete, the TEC will put forward two new nominees, unless otherwise decided.

The meeting also made progress on elaborating the modalities and procedures of the Committee, which will be subject to final review by electronic means among members of the TEC in the coming weeks prior to it being presented and considered at COP17 in Durban, South Africa, later this year.

Six main elements of the modalities were agreed to for elaboration based on the functions of the TEC: analysis and synthesis; policy recommendations; facilitation and catalyzing; linkage with institutional arrangements under the Convention; engagement with stakeholders; and information and knowledge sharing.

Among some of the main issues that saw an intense exchange were the issue of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and the relationship of the TEC to the Climate Technology Centre (CTCN).

(The Cancun decision established a Technology Mechanism which consists of the TEC and the CTCN.)

On the issue of IPRs, Mr. Kanat Baigarin of Kazakhstan wanted this issue included so that the Committee could perform its function of providing an overview of the technological needs and analysis of policy and technical issues. This was supported by China, Ecuador, Kenya and Algeria.

Mr. Can Wang of China said that the issue of IPRs in addressing technology development and transfer could not be avoided. IPRs could be seen as an incentive for technology innovation but it could also be a barrier for developing countries especially in relation to new technologies.

He said that no one could say that IPRs are not a barrier. It was an issue that needed to be addressed by the TEC, as this was the body to discuss policy recommendations.

Japan, Germany and the United States raised strong objections to having any reference to the issue of IPRs in the document elaborating the modalities of the TEC.

Mr. Kunihiko Shimada of Japan said that "the talking of IPRs by the TEC is not mandated and is under heavy negotiation". He said that neither the TEC nor the UNFCCC was the right body for setting rules on IPRs and it was for other bodies like WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).

Mr. Rick Duke of the US said that IPRs are not a barrier to technology diffusion and transfer and supported Japan.

Mr. Antonio Pfluger of Germany said that a lot of technology transfer takes place without IPRs and where this was an issue, arrangements could be found to deal with it. He also said that the TEC had no mandate to address the issue. He proposed that there was no need to have specific mention of IPRs in the modalities document but when members dealt with a specific technology, this issue could be addressed.

In response, Mr. Nagmeldin El Hassan of Sudan suggested that instead of mentioning IPRs, this issue could be discussed in relation to addressing the barriers to technology transfer. This compromise was eventually agreed to. On the issue of the CTCN, Shimada of Japan raised concerns that the modalities document frequently mentioned the CTCN although the role of the CTCN had yet to be clarified and was pending negotiations.

Mr. Niyazi Ilter of Turkey also said that the relationship between the TEC and CTCN was still not clear, questioning if the TEC was going to be purely advisory, having no implementation role. He said that if the TEC was purely advisory, it would not have real effect.

Mr. Brendan Morling of Australia was of the view that the relationship between the TEC and the CTCN should be one of information exchange.

Uosukainen of Finland said that the Cancun decision makes clear the functions, mandate and separate roles of the CTCN and the TEC. The TEC is serving the Conference of Parties and is a strategic body, while the CTCN will be serving countries and is the operative arm of the Technology Mechanism.

He said that as a TEC member, Parties should be able to talk about policy, finance and the CTCN. The TEC should be looking at what the CTCN is doing and what money is going to technology, as it was the role of the TEC to provide guidance and advice.

He said that the TEC has no money, while he expects the CTCN to have money and dedicated experts to respond to the requests of countries for advice.

Mr. Albert Binger of Jamaica, representing the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), also raised the issue of technology assessment and wanted the modalities to include the production of technical papers on this matter. There was no objection to this from members.

Following the discussions, it was agreed that the document on the modalities and procedures of the TEC will be reviewed by members via electronic means and that there would be no further meetings this year.

The meeting ended with the hope that the TEC would be able to meet early next year to advance further work.+