Info Service on Climate Change (Sept12/01)
and technology assessment enter UNFCCC agenda
Bangkok, 11 Sept (Hilary Chiew) – The 4th meeting of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Bangkok on 6-8 September identified intellectual property rights as an area ‘for which clarity would be needed’.
This will be one of the messages which the TEC will convey to the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC in Doha, Qatar at the end of the year.
The message reads: “IPRs (intellectual property rights) were identified as an area for which clarity would be needed on its role in the development and transfer of climate technologies based upon evidence on a case by case basis.”
This was a compromised conclusion from the discussion on this contentious issue which was raised in the “Thematic dialogue on enabling environment and barriers to technology development and transfer” on 6 September chaired by the TEC Chair Gabriel Blanco (Argentina). The Bangkok dialogue was a continuation of the dialogue with relevant stakeholders that began in Bonn at the 3rd TEC meeting earlier this year in May. It focused on gaps identified in the Bonn discussion, and produced a draft set of key messages for the TEC to adopt for submission to COP 18.
Developed country members such as the United States, Japan, Finland, Germany and Poland had initially resisted any mention of IPRs as a message to the COP 18 on the argument that there was no conclusion that IPRs are barriers to technology development and transfer for developing countries.
However, developing country members from Sudan and China insisted that the discussion must be reflected in the message to accurately convey the information derived from the thematic dialogue which is part of the 2012-2013 rolling work plan as well as submissions from stakeholders responding to the call for inputs from the TEC.
(At the preceding meeting of the UNFCCC Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action held in Bangkok on 30 August to 5 September, developed countries fiercely rejected substantive discussion on IPRs, insisting that the competent fora are the World Intellectual Property Organisation and World Trade Organisation. If at all to be addressed under the UNFCCC, they said it would be covered by the TEC that is to deal with “barriers” to technology development and transfer. As ecpected they also raised objections at the TEC meeting. See TWN Bangkok Climate News Update #3 dated 31 August 2012.)
Responding to the first draft of the key messages from the thematic dialogue distributed by the TEC Chair Blanco at the TEC meeting on the afternoon of 7 September, Wang Can of China said the IPRs issue is a focus of submissions, where there are clear references to IPRs in disseminating low carbon technologies as contained in the submission from four organisations.
A total of 17 submissions were received from observer organisations.
Wang acknowledged that during the discussion of this agenda item, (UNFCCC) Parties have different views. Despite that, he said, the message from the thematic dialogue should reflect those different views.
He said Parties should ask for evidence to convince the TEC, adding that if the TEC does not go through this process, this issue will be raised again and again.
He stressed that the constructive way (to handle this issue) is to have common understanding and that Parties did not agree to phase out critical issues.
Echoing Wang, Nagmeldin El Hassan of Sudan agreed that this issue cannot be ignored but have to do something about it, adding that the other important issue is finance and these are the initial list of issues and should be included in the chapeau (of the document to be sent to COP 18).
The TEC Vice-Chair Antonio Pfluger (Germany) said the issue (of IPRs) has not come to a conclusion yet but the messages to the COP are conclusions (on issues) where there are consensus and the TEC is not a body that can make a conclusion on IPRs.
Krzysztof Klincewicz of Poland supported a positive message to the COP and it must have general agreement. He said the TEC does not have the capability right now to go into specific barriers.
Earlier, Jukka Uosukainen of Finland said he felt Parties were misled into thinking that IPRs is a problem but, however, he is ready to look at the magnitude of the problem with a clear neutral analysis and that TEC is the better body to deal with this issue.
Chair Blanco said the list of messages does not pretend to be a comprehensive set of elements and other elements can be included, adding that having the issue carried in the message does not mean consideration for the topic is closed.
On the last day of the meeting, the final version of the key messages from the thematic dialogue contained the following:
Collaborative research, development and demonstration (RD&D) should
be promoted as a way to share knowledge and experiences between developed
and developing countries including through North-South and South-South
collaboration, to meet the technology needs of developing countries.
The key messages document also said that the TEC was of the view that issues encompassing enabling environments and barriers to technology transfer are very wide in scope and has many dimensions and that further work would be required to inform deliberation among the TEC on this matter. The output of this work should contribute and/or inform the deliberation and decision among Parties on technology related matters under the Convention.
On next steps, the TEC agreed that the following activities should be undertaken in 2013:
To continue the dialogue with relevant stakeholders on this matter
(i.e. enabling environment and barriers to technology development
and transfer ) with a view to broadening the scope of engagement;
Another contentious issue was technology assessment. On the first day of the meeting at the continued thematic dialogue, South Centre’s Executive Director, Martin Khor, told the meeting that in order to promote the development and transfer of technologies, it is also important to assess the appropriateness of the technologies that are selected for development, transfer and diffusion.
This, he said, is to ensure that the technologies that are so promoted are in accordance with the objectives of the UNFCCC, as well as in line with national needs and goals.
He said the TEC should establish principles and criteria for the assessment of appropriate and relevant technologies that meet general acceptability as well as national conditions, needs and objectives. A mechanism can then be established on applying these criteria when selection of technologies take place.
He suggested the following criteria: relevance to the objective of addressing the climate change problems; environmental soundness; safety to the environment and to human health and safety; affordability, especially for developing countries; social acceptability and effects, including in relation to employment, equity, and cultural norms; and economic efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
On role that the TEC could play, Khor suggested a work programme to identify needs of developing countries, barriers to the transfer and diffusion and development of the required technologies, and ways to overcome the barriers.
He said as part of the above, the TEC could initiate a discussion and a mechanism for the assessment of technologies including criteria for appropriate technologies, in order to assess the suitability of the technologies for selection for promotion and transfer.
The TEC could also propose and promote measures for the regulation of the markets that deals with refusals to transfer technology, restrictive practices in licensing agreements and the incorporation of patented technologies. It could also establish mechanisms of international cooperation and coordination, support the improvement of patent examination, assist developing countries to understand the use of flexibilities in the IPR regime and their capacity for research and development.
The issue was again raised by Elenita Dano of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group) on the final day of the meeting where the TEC discussed possible topics for technical papers.
She said the technical papers should not just be for the COP but for a bigger audience as lots of NGOs and think-tanks refer to these papers although the Parties are the primary audience.
The TEC, she said, could contribute to moving the deadlock by developing technical papers that focus on issues that could help in further understanding of contentious issues such as technology assessment which has popped up in the negotiations on the additional functions of the CTCN (the Climate Technology Centre and Network that together with the TEC are the two components of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism). There is a big gap on technology assessment in developing countries.
She said we are so obsessed with development and transfer but not assessing the impacts where there are technologies that has done a lot of damage to local livelihoods, social and cultural aspects and we have many examples to show from the past century. Therefore, technology assessment should not be done after deployment but at the research and development stage itself. This is a big gap that the TEC can fill, in particular, in providing guidance to developing countries on available tools and mechanisms in the same manner that the Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) process was guided by the Expert Group on Technology Transfer, the UNFCCC Secretariat and the United Nations Environment Programme over the years.
On geo-engineering, she said it is ironic that the UNFCCC has not touched this issue although a lot of its discussion on mitigation is about geo-engineering with its roadmap for research and development, and deployment.
Under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), there is already a de facto moratorium on geo-engineering, initially on ocean fertilisation in 2008 and later expanded in 2010 to include all forms of geo-engineering which will be discussed again at the upcoming CBD COP 11 (in October in Hyderabad, India). She further said the CBD Secretariat has come out with a good paper on governance of geo-engineering for SBSTTA 16 (Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technological and Technical Advice of the CBD) in May and the area of governance of geo-engineering in the climate regime is identified as a big gap.
When the second version of the key messages from the thematic dialogue was circulated on the third day (8 September), Albert Binger of Jamaica questioned if there will be nothing said about technology assessment. Are we saying it is not a barrier? Do we say anything or do we not address it? he asked.
Chair Blanco said the matter was not raised under the thematic dialogue, to which Wang (of China) pointed out that South Centre had elaborated on the issue and mentioned it in its submission. He suggested that Parties think about it and proposed that a roadmap for long term vision is important to facilitate further deliberation on this matter.
The word ‘assess’ was subsequently added in the third and final version of the key messages from the thematic dialogue.
Besides the thematic dialogue, other key messages are from the TEC agenda item on Technology Roadmaps and Technology Needs Assessments.
On Technology Roadmaps, the key messages for Doha are:
Technology roadmaps provide a coherent basis for international and/or
national policies to support enhanced action on development and transfer
of technologies to address climate change.
The TEC also agreed that the following activities should be undertaken in 2013:
To continue its efforts to improve the inventory of technology roadmaps
in collaboration with relevant organisations;
The key messages from Technology Needs Assessments (TNAs) are:
TNAs syntheses are a key information source for prioritization of
activities under the Technology Mechanism, and are a rich source of
information for governments, business and other stakeholders.
On the preparation of its first technical brief on technologies for climate change adaptation, the Secretariat is asked to do the following:
a literature review in dealing with the needs for adaptation identified
in the TNAs and its synthesis
The TEC agreed to have its fifth meeting around the last week of February or the first week of March, in Bonn, Germany, next year.+