TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Sept13/02)
10 September 2013
Third World Network  

Technology Committee focus on technology needs assessments

Geneva, 10 September (Meena Raman) – The UNFCCC’s Technology Executive Committee (TEC) held its seventh meeting in Bonn on 4-7 September, 2013. A key focus of the meeting was the results of technology needs assessments (TNAs) carried out by non-Annex 1 countries. An in-session workshop on TNAs was held on 6 September, as part of the meeting.

At the workshop, the UNFCCC Secretariat presented preliminary findings of the 3rd synthesis report on the technology needs of non-Annex 1 countries, which provided useful insights on the priority technologies needed in both mitigation and adaptation (see below for details). 

Some members of the TEC and observers pointed out that the results of the TNAs could be useful for the work of bodies such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as well as the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN).

The meeting was presided over by the TEC Chair Antonio Plfuger (Germany) and Vice-chair Gabriel Blanco (Argentina).

Workshop on Technology Needs Assessments (TNAs)

In the preliminary analysis presented by the UNFCCC Secretariat, by July 2013 a total of 31 TNA reports were available and the information contained in these reports was synthesized into the ‘Third synthesis report on technology needs identified by non-Annex 1 Parties.’ The regional distribution of the 31 Parties who conducted TNAs was: Africa (11), Asia (9), Eastern Europe (3), and Latin America and the Caribbean (8).  Highlights of the findings were as follows:

The energy sector was the most prioritized mitigation sector, followed by agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors, and the waste sector. Within the energy sector, the most prioritized subsectors were energy industries and transport.

In the prioritization of technologies for mitigation the following were identified: energy industries, solar PV, wind turbines, small-scale hydro-power, and combined heat and power based on biomass and fossil-fuels. In the transport subsector, modal shift, fossil fuel switch technologies and infrastructure improvement technologies were identified, while in the industrial subsector, it was high efficient electric motors and brick production.

The most commonly prioritized adaptation sectors were agriculture, water resources, infrastructure and settlements (including coastal zones). The prioritized sectors for adaptation were consistent with the sectors identified in national vulnerability analyses.

As regards prioritization of technologies for adaptation, it was agriculture (including forestry), water resources and infrastructure and settlement (including coastal zones). 

The most frequently identified mitigation barriers were economic and financial barriers, followed by technical, policy, legal and regulatory barriers, information and awareness, market failure and imperfection, human skills, network failures, lack of institutional and organizational capacity barriers.

The most commonly identified enablers to address these barriers were to provide or expand financial incentives (80%) and to strengthen the regulatory framework for the technology (also 80%), both to attract investors to the market.

The most frequently identified adaptation barriers were economic and financial barriers, followed by policy, legal and regulatory barriers, lack of institutional and organizational capacity, human skills, technical, social, cultural and behavioural, access to information and awareness, market failure and imperfection and network failures.

The most commonly identified enablers to address these barriers in the agricultural sector were the creation of national financial mechanisms or policies (65%) and the creation of an allowance in the national budget for this technology (including promotion of R&D) (50%).

The total estimated budget required for the 257 project ideas identified by Parties amounted to more than USD 24.7 billion. USD 12.5 billion was estimated to be required for project ideas related to mitigation, and USD 12.2 billion for adaptation. Most of the mitigation budget was required for the energy subsectors: energy industries (27% of the total budget) and transport (20%).  The sectors for adaptation where most of the budget was allocated are water (35%) and agriculture (14%). 

The workshop then discussed the “implementation of the results of TNAs”.

Jonathan Duwyn of UNEP in his presentation said that the TNAs/Technology Action Plans (TAPs) process is an enabling activity and not an end in itself. He highlighted 3 key factors in ensuring quality and success in the activity which are (i) the need for high level political will and support, (ii) stakeholder engagement and commitment and (iii) local capacities (notably of the local consultants) and knowledge (including availability of information and data) . On some of the key lessons learnt were the need to closely link TNA/TAPs to national sustainable development plans; the need to engage better the in-country donor community and improve dissemination of results; the need to advocate nomination of “good” national TNA coordinators (TNA champions); the need to devote enough time, and if necessary, be intrusive in the identification and selection of local consultants and the need to be flexible and adapt to the country specific needs/context.

Diana Harutyunyan from the Ministry of Nature Protection in Armenia said that TNAs have to be complementary to national communications. Donors are able to see what a country’s priorities are. She said that it is important to see how mitigation priorities are linked to the country’s development and in the case of adaptation, the link to food security is key. She said that it is important that renewable energy is supported through feed-in tariffs, as the private sector will put in money when returns are guaranteed. She also called for subsidy schemes and specific funds for that.

Francisco Duran of the Ministry of Environment of El Salvador said in its TNA process from 2011-2013, technologies of priority in relation to adaptation action plans were drip irrigation, agroforestry, riverine forest, latrines built on high structure in flood areas and houses built on stilts. He highlighted that El Salvador has suffered from increases in frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones and low-pressure systems since the 1980s. Between 2002 and 2011, the country was hit by seven cyclones and two low-pressure systems. In only two years (between November 2009 and October 2011) there were five extreme rain events in which 250 people died. Three of these events caused economic losses of USD1,300 million (6% of GDP).

Franck Jesus from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) said that TNAs and TAPs need to clearly be a part of a country’s national development strategy and process. Although they are done in the Ministries of Environment, the Ministries of Finance and Economy need to be involved as well. He said that the GEF will focus on ‘transformational technologies’ where there is mitigation potential (examples included carbon capture and storage, black carbon and short-lived pollutants, information and communication technology, and smart grids) and less on incremental technologies; mechanisms and policies for rapid changes; collaborative initiatives and initiatives that allow for technologies to be adapted; and support for mechanisms that allow for sustainability.

Others who spoke during the session on implementation of the results of TNAs included Phil LaRocco of Embark Energy, Inc. and Dr. Ronald Roesch of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

During the question and answer session, Third World Network (TWN), who was an observer, stressed the importance of sharing the findings of the TNA synthesis report with bodies such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which are discussing the initial result areas that should be funded. It also remarked that it was astounding that the CTCN had USD 22 million already, with the aim of garnering USD100 million in 5 years, when the GCF as of early this year, had only USD 6 million.

(On the first day of the meeting, TEC members were informed that USD 22 million had been capitalised for the work of the CTCN, while aiming for USD 100 million in 5 years).

Vice-chair Gabriel Blanco (Argentina) responded to the TWN comment with a remark that “we are also astounded”.

Harutyunyan of Armenia, responding to the GEF, said that the GEF did not say anything about adaptation and commented that the Adaptation Fund resources were exhausted. She asked how projects will be supported if there are no financial means for implementation. She remarked that a lot of renewable energy projects are not competitive. She also said that the analysis of TNA outcomes should be used by financial institutions like the GCF.

The workshop then addressed linkages between the TNA process and other planning tools under the Convention.

El hadji Mbaye Diagne of Afrique-Energie-Environment, Senegal said that the output of TNAs can serve as basis for the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and low-emissions development strategies. The CTCN, in considering the prioritisation of requests from developing countries could also refer to TNAs.

Juan Ignacio Paraca from the Energy Strategy Advisory Council of Argentina said the TNAs helped identify barriers and the regulatory framework needed. It also led to a NAMA proposal for a biomass generator.

Dr. Jan Verhagen from the Wageningen University said that the objective of national adaptation plans (NAPs) is to reduce vulnerability and to integrate adaptation into mainstream policies. On the issue of technology, the main thing is to stocktake what technologies one has. Adaptation is about local interventions and not all technologies give direct results. NAPs are a process and technology will have a role to play in implementation.

Others who also spoke at the session were Sudhir Sharma of UNEP–RISO and Dr. Sebastian Wienges from the GIZ (the German international development cooperation agency).

Vice-chair Blanco (Argentina), in his wrap up comments from the session, said that TNAs are part of larger plans. The TNA methodology to identify barriers to technology transfer can be used in the NAMA and NAPs processes. There are also linkages with the financial community and the GCF should listen to the results of TNAs. Further analysis on the linkages, integration and use of the results of the TNAs may be needed.

The TEC also addressed several other matters including: technology briefs; follow-up from the thematic dialogue on research, development and demonstration of environmentally-sound technologies, and key messages to the 19th meeting of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP 19) in Warsaw in November.

Technology briefs

Three technology briefs have been prepared by the respective taskforces (comprised of various TEC members). The briefs are on (i) results of the TNAs, (ii) the integration of TNAs with NAMAs and NAPs, and (iii) technology roadmaps. The TEC members provided comments on the briefs so that they may be finalised.

On the TNA results brief, some highlights were provided.

“Based on the responses received from 22 non-Annex 1 Parties which participated in the two surveys (conducted by the UNFCCC Secretariat), the several implementation success factors, challenges, and experiences were identified. Successes include: availability of domestic and/or international funding; involvement of relevant state authorities in the project development from the start; a high priority for the government of the proposed project or technologies involved; availability of a pro-active and knowledgeable project champion supporting the investment process by its capacity and also as s source of funding, if possible.

Challenges include: environmental issues not considered a priority by the national decision makers; a high investment and/or low rate of return of the proposed projects; low visibility of the projects reported in the TNAs to donors; low attractiveness of some innovative technologies.

Several projects from the initial TNA round were successfully implemented. Most of the implemented projects were in the energy sector on the both supply and demand side. Power and heat production and energy efficiency in industry and households were the common energy subsectors.”

The TEC brief is aimed at informing policy makers about the results, success factors and lessons learnt of the TNA process with a view to improving this process and enhancing the implementation of the results of the TNA process. It will contain recommendations for the attention of policy makers.

Following responses by TEC members on the technology briefs, it was agreed that the Secretariat will incorporate the comments and will issue revised versions of the briefs which will be finalized before Warsaw.

Research, development and demonstration of environmentally-sound technologies ESTs

At the last TEC meeting in June 2013, a thematic dialogue was held on research, development and demonstration (RD&D). The TEC members considered the summary report from that dialogue and discussed how to advance further on this matter

Griffin Thompson (United States) said that a workshop on national innovation systems would be a promising way to go. He suggested the bringing of other experts and bodies in this field.

Nagmeldin Elhassan (Sudan) said it was essential to have a workshop on barriers and enabling environments for RD&D.  It can be linked to the TNAs and from submissions that have been received by the TEC before. It is important to involve Parties and practitioners in this regard.

Seyed Mohammad Sadeghzadeh (Iran) said that at the previous TEC meeting, when barriers were discussed, it was concluded that a workshop is necessary to elaborate the role of intellectual property rights (IPRs).

Krzysztof Klincewicz (Poland) said that from the synthesis of the TNAs, when we look at barriers, there is need to look at a group of barriers – policy, markets and regulatory environment. There is also need to set up national innovation systems and to address how to strengthen that.

Wang Can (China) said that the COP had asked for further in-depth work on the issue of barriers and enablers. One issue that the TEC has not looked at in a formal was the IPR issue and he supported the idea of a workshop on this as members have different views in this regard and there is need to seek clarification. In relation to RD&D, he said there is need to enhance national innovation and endogenous capacities of developing countries.

Thompson (US) reiterated the need for robust work on national innovation systems. There is need for a workshop that looks at real life experiences and barriers to innovation.

Jukka Uosukainen (Finland) said that in looking at national innovation systems, if there are IPR issues, this needs to be tackled.

Kanat Baigarin (Kazakhstan) said that the IPR issue has been raised since the TEC’s first meeting.

Vice-chair Blanco said that there was consensus to continue to work on the RD&D issue and proposed the creation of a taskforce to consider topics for a series of workshops.

A taskforce was then convened.  It was agreed that the taskforce will continue to work on topics for the workshops and that the TEC members will consider the issue of enablers and barriers at the next TEC meeting, which will be held in early 2014.

Key messages to the COP

The TEC members also discussed and finalised key messages to be delivered to COP 19 in Warsaw. Several of the key messages related to the TNA process.