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TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Nov07/04)

9 November 2007


Real action needed on technology, finance in climate talks

Real and concrete actions are needed to provide technology and financial resources to developing countries in the negotiations for a post-2012 regime on climate change, according to a leading official in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process.

To date, there has not been real progress on technology transfer, while little real funds have been committed under the UNFCCC, according to Mr. Chow Kok Kee, the Chair of the Expert Group on Technology Transfer under the UNFCCC.

Chow was also the former Chair of the UNFCCC's Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) from 1997 to 1999. He was also formerly Director-General of Malaysia's Meteorological Services Department and a leading delegate for the country in climate-related negotiations.

Chow was speaking at the South-east Asian regional conference on climate change, "Reducing the Threats and Harnessing the Opportunities of Climate Change", which was held in Kuala Lumpur on 29-30 October 2007.

Below is a report of the statements made by Mr. Chow at the conference.  They represent a very interesting critique of he state of the progress of the climate negotiations.  The report was published in the South North Development Monitor (SUNS) on 6 Nov 2007.

With best wishes
Martin Khor
TWN


Real action needed on technology, finance in climate talks
Published in SUNS #6359 dated 6 November 2007
By Meenakshi Raman, Kuala Lumpur, 3 Nov 2007

Real and concrete actions are needed to provide technology and financial resources to developing countries in the negotiations for a post-2012 regime on climate change, according to a leading official in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process.

To date, there has not been real progress on technology transfer, while little real funds have been committed under the UNFCCC, according to Mr. Chow Kok Kee, the Chair of the Expert Group on Technology Transfer under the UNFCCC.

Chow was also the former Chair of the UNFCCC's Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) from 1997 to 1999. He was also formerly Director-General of Malaysia's Meteorological Services Department and a leading delegate for the country in climate-related negotiations.

Chow was speaking at the South-east Asian regional conference on climate change, "Reducing the Threats and Harnessing the Opportunities of Climate Change", which was held in Kuala Lumpur on 29-30 October 2007.

The conference, organised by the Malaysian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) and the British High Commission in Malaysia, was attended by over 400 policymakers, experts and NGO representatives (See SUNS #6358 dated 5 November 2007 for a separate article on the conference).

Speaking at a plenary session on "current concerns on international climate change negotiations", Chow said that a key way forward in addressing the current concerns is to promote international cooperation among parties through the reduction of suspicion and the building of confidence through concrete work.

One serious concern cited by Chow is the lack of technology transfer to developing countries. The simple and usual answer (given by developed countries) for not facilitating technology transfer is that technology is in the hands of the private sector and hence governments do not have any role, he said.

"Developed countries prefer to maintain the current status quo, while developing countries stress the need for technology transfer," he added, summarizing the North-South divide on the technology issue. 

He questioned whether the developed country governments have considered ways and means of encouraging their private sector to transfer technology to developing countries, such as through providing tax incentives, concessional loans or subsidies.

In suggesting some ways forward for a Bali Roadmap, he said that many national initiatives by developing countries at their own costs must be recognized and further encouraged through financial and technological support. "Closer cooperation in capacity building and joint research and development will facilitate better regional and sub-regional efforts in addressing climate change," he added.

He said that the Bali Roadmap needs to focus on reaching an international agreement on concrete steps to a framework to follow the end of the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period in 2012.

There could be possible agreements on a time-line for the conclusion of second-commitment period emission-reduction targets; for the SBSTA to work on methodological issues related to the reduction of emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD); and on a new body or approach for technology transfer and for the application of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fourth Assessment Programme.

On the key issue of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions after 2012, Chow put forward some questions which are likely to figure prominently in the forthcoming discussions: What are targets for reduction for developed countries? How would developing countries participate in the next commitment period? Will there be targets set for developing countries? What about the USA, Australia and Canada? What will happen to the Clean Development Mechanism?

In assessing the progress so far in relation to financial resources made available under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, Chow said that many developing countries have identified their technology needs and put forward their adaptation programmes, but there have been no resources to support these.

Elaborating on this, Chow said that several pledges were made on the Special Climate Fund but little real money was made available. The Adaptation Fund is not operational because it is bogged down by negotiations on which countries are entitled to it and how much they should get.

There has also been a "deactivation" of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC through the Resource Allocation Framework. Further, the Clean Development Mechanism, which is based on the market mechanism, may have benefited some members, but there are concerns that it has not benefited all the members.

As for technology transfer, Chow said that both mitigation and adaptation technology and know-how are not freely available. Technology need assessments have been conducted by many developing countries, but no funding is available for them. The negotiations for a future body to oversee the implementation of technology transfer under the Convention is stalled.

In his view, there is a need for technology cooperation, joint research and development and access to know-how, as well as for support for the endogenous development of technology by developing countries.

In another session on mitigation of climate change, Chow addressed the issue of the "development, transfer and diffusion of environment friendly technology".

He said that the transfer of technology involved not just the North-South flow of technology hardware, but also flow of experience, know-how among stakeholders, including government and private sector entities, research institutions, universities as well as NGOs.

He identified several barriers to effective technology transfer. These include "insufficient human and institutional capacities, lack of knowledge and awareness of emerging technologies, reluctance in accepting energy efficiency as energy tariffs remains low, a poor enabling environment and a lack of support from local financial institutions".

Other barriers were the protection of intellectual property rights, lack of assessment of technology needs, poor support from governments on innovation and R&D and poor market for the technology, he said.

In describing an "enabling environment", Chow said that there were pull and push factors. On pull factors, "foreign private companies want a better enabling environment such as lower import duties, free market access and income tax incentives." The push factors include actions by "government to provide tax incentives to companies that export environmentally friendly technologies to developing countries."

On the issue of adaptation, Chow also outlined some current concerns as regards the climate negotiations. He said that the Nairobi Work Programme on adaptation constituted only a series of workshops and the preparation of technical papers. There is a "lack of action-oriented programmes, while developing countries continue to face adverse impacts of climate change."

He posed the question whether sub-regional programmes on adaptation would be more practical than a global programme. The LDCs have completed their National Adaptation Programme of Actions. Other developing countries could also undertake a similar exercise.

On the forestry issue, Chow said that there were some differences in approaches being considered by the developing countries on the issue of reduction of emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD).

Brazil has a clear demand for compensation for reducing its deforestation rate, while India and Malaysia would like to include the issues of forest degradation and sustainable forest management in the negotiations.

The developed countries prefer more methodologies to be developed before making conclusions on compensation. The question of resources linked to deforestation would not be settled until the SBSTA adopts methodologies on this issue, and this could take two to three years.

Chow added that there has been little progress on capacity building as the UNFCCC is not an implementing agency, and activities on this have to be carried out by other agencies.

 


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