Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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6.1 Introduction

Article 4 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calls for the transfer of technologies, including those for adaptation, from developed to developing countries (Climate Change Secretariat, 1992). Under various sub-articles, it lays out ways by which such transfers could be supported by the developed countries. Furthermore, at the Third session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, three new mechanisms of cooperative implementation were established (Climate Change Secretariat, 1998). The new mechanisms include transactions among Annex I Parties, international emissions trading (IET), which provides for cooperation among the Annex B Parties, and the clean development mechanism (CDM), which extends the scope of cooperation to non-Annex I Parties.

Domestic actions, and those taken in cooperation with other countries, will require an increased market penetration of environmentally sound technologies, many of which are particularly important in their application to each sector. What is the potential for the penetration of mitigation and adaptation technologies? What barriers exist to the increased market penetration of such technologies? Can these be overcome through the implementation of a mix of judicious policies, programmes and other measures? What can we learn from past experience in promoting these, or similar technologies? Is it better to intervene at the R&D stage or during the end-use of fuels and technology? The chapters in this section (Section II) address these questions using examples specific to each sector. Technology transfer activities may be evaluated at three levels - macro or national, sector-specific and project-specific. Many of the options explored in the Section II chapters are at the latter two levels. We present criteria that authors have used for the evaluation of what might constitute effective technology transfer activities.

Greenhouse gas emissions from some sectors described in Section II are larger than those from other sectors, and the importance of each greenhouse gas varies across sectors and countries as well. Methane, for instance, is a much bigger contributor to emissions from agricultural activity than, for instance, from the industry sector. Table 6.1 shows the carbon emissions from energy use in 1995. Emissions from electricity generation are allocated to the respective consuming sector. Carbon emissions from the industrial sector clearly constitute the largest share, while those derived from agricultural energy use comprise the smallest share. In terms of growth rates of carbon emissions, however, the fastest growing sectors are transport and buildings. With rapid urbanisation promoting an increased use of fossil fuels for mobility and habitation, these two sectors are likely to continue to grow faster than others in the future. Carbon emissions from fossil fuels used to generate electricity amounted to 1,762 MtC of the total for all sectors in Table 6.1. Chapters 7-9 examine technology transfer opportunities in the energy demand sectors, and Chapter 10 focuses on energy supply options.

Table 6.1 Carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion in Mt C (Price et al., 1998)
    (1971-90) (1990-95)
Industry 2370 (43%) 1.7 0.4


  • Residential
  • Commercial
1172 (21%)
584 (10%)
Transport 1227 (22%) 2.6 2.4
Agriculture 223 (4%) 3.8 0.8
All Sectors 5577 (100%) 2.0 1.0
Electricity Generation* 1762 (32%) 2.3 1.7

Note: Emissions from energy use only; does not include feedstocks or carbon dioxide from calcination in cement production. Biomass = no emissions.
* Includes emissions only from fuels used for electricity generation. Other energy production and transformation activities discussed in Chapter 10 are not included.

Carbon emissions from the forestry sector were estimated in the IPCC Second Assessment Report at 0.9 +- 0.5 MtC for the 1980s (Watson et al., 1996a). Tropical forests, as a whole, are estimated to be net emitters, but temperate and boreal forests are net sequesters of carbon. Estimates of emissions from the agricultural sector are not available. Carbon equivalent emissions from waste disposal amounted to between 335-535 MtC. Chapters 11 and 12 focus on the technology transfer opportunities in the agricultural and forestry sectors, and Chapter 13 focuses on the waste disposal sector.

Changes in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols are projected to lead to regional and global changes in temperature, precipitation, and other climate variables, such as soil moisture, an increase in global mean sea level, and prospects for more severe extreme high-temperature events, floods, and droughts in some places (Watson et al., 1998). Climate models based on alternative IPCC emissions scenarios project that the mean annual global surface temperature will increase by 1-3.5 degrees Celsius, and that the global mean sea level will rise by 15-95 cm (IPCC, 1995).

Climate change represents an additional stress on systems already affected by increased resource demands. In coastal areas, where a large part of the global population lives, climate change can cause inundation of wetlands and lowlands, erosion and degradation of shorelines and coral reefs, increased flooding and salinisation of estuaries and freshwater aquifers. Health care systems may be further stressed as diseases spread beyond their current domains, and vectors migrate to other parts of the world and to different altitudes. Model projections show that at the upper end of the range of projected temperature increase (3-5 degrees Celsius), the world's population exposed to malaria will increase from 45% to 60% by the latter half of the next century. Heat-stress mortality and air pollution will create additional problems for health systems, particularly those in urban areas. Technology transfer options for adapting to these consequences are discussed in Chapters 14 and 15.

Technology transfer includes both within and between countries by actors who are engaged in promoting the use of a particular technology along one or more pathways. The market penetration of a technology may proceed from research, development, and demonstration (RD&D), adoption, adaptation, replication and development. At a project-specific level, the elements of the pathway are different, and may proceed from project formulation, feasibility studies, loan appraisals, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation and verification of carbon benefits. The pathways may include many actors, starting with laboratories for RD&D, manufacturers, financiers and project developers, and eventually the customer whose welfare is presumably enhanced through their use. This presumption needs to be carefully established through an assessment of the technology needs of the consumer. A poor needs-assessment can result in barriers to technology transfer that could have been avoided had the assessment fully captured the social and other attributes of the technology. The actors may make specific types of arrangements - joint ventures, public companies, licensing, etc. that are mutually beneficial. These arrangements will define the particular pathway chosen for technology transfer.

The transfer of a particular technology may proceed along one or more pathways, as it evolves from R&D towards commercial application. The importance of actors may change over time, as activities that were carried out earlier by governments are turned over to private industry or to communities. On the other hand, in times of crisis, the government role may become more prominent as national or international interests become the primary drivers for taking action.

The spread of a technology may occur through transfer within a country and then transfer to other countries, both may occur simultaneously, or transfer between countries may precede that within a country. Generally, the spread of a technology is more likely to proceed along the first option rather than the other two, since the transfer of technologies to markets within a country is likely to be less expensive given the proximity to the market, and lower barriers to the penetration of that technology in the indigenous markets. Transfer of technology from one country to another will generally face trade and other barriers, both in the initiating and recipient country, which may dissuade manufacturers and suppliers from implementing such transfer.

Many market barriers prevent the adoption of cost-effective mitigation options in developing countries. In the energy sector these barriers include the high initial cost of equipment, a lack of information on new technologies, the presence of subsidies for electricity and fuels, and high tariffs on imported energy technologies. In the forestry sector, barriers include pressures on land availability for mitigation; absence of institutions to promote participation of local communities, farmers and industry; risk of drought, fire, and pests; inadequate research and development capacity in countries; and poorly developed reforestation and sustainable forestry practices. Both sectors also suffer from an absence of appropriate methods and institutions to monitor and verify carbon flows (Watson et al., 1996b).

What conditions and policies are necessary to overcome these barriers and successfully implement GHG mitigation options? The combination of barriers and actors in each country creates a unique set of conditions, requiring "custom" implementation strategies for mitigation options. Each chapter in this Section discusses the barriers that are particularly important to a sector, such as fuel and electricity price subsidies, weak institutional and legal frameworks, lack of trained personnel, etc. Each chapter also provides examples and case studies to highlight the barriers, and policies, programmes and measures that were used, or could be developed, to overcome them.

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