6.4 Technology transfer

It is clear that there are a number of areas of technological innovation. Assuming these achieve their potential to help tackle climate change, it is essential that they can be implemented widely – something that requires technology transfer. This is the process of sharing skills, knowledge, technologies themselves, methods and samples of manufacturing, and facilities between governments and other institutions to ensure that developments are accessible where they are needed, not only where funds and facilities exist to develop them.

Technology transfer is commonly undertaken, but there are some aspects that relate specifically to climate change. First, the scale of the transfer would need to be much greater than usual, with all countries and thousands of technologies potentially involved. Second, with the payback period for research and development expenses often being too long to be of interest to the private sector, special incentives may be required through government policies or undertaking research and development in the public sector. Of course, unlike most other technologies, it can be argued that, as everybody in the world requires a functioning climate, everybody would be a beneficiary. Article 4.5 of the UNFCCC requires that countries facilitate technology transfer, and there are measures such as the clean development mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol which can help to achieve this.

Activity 19

Chapters 7–15 of the IPCC report cited above cover different sectors where technology transfer will be required to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Choose one of these and identify three key points that determine how effectively technology transfer takes place.

6.3 Other innovations: decentralised energy

7 Networks and effective action: individuals and society