Climate Change 2001:
Working Group III: Mitigation
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5.1 Introduction

Technology transfer comprises a broad set of processes covering the flows of know-how, experience, and equipment for mitigating and adapting to climate change among different stakeholders such as governments, private sector entities, financial institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and research and/or education institutions (IPCC, 1996; IPCC, 2000b). The term transfer encompasses diffusion of technologies and technology co-operation across and within countries. It comprises the process of learning to understand, utilize, and replicate the technology, including the capacity to choose and adapt it to local conditions, and integrate it with indigenous technologies.

The previous chapters (Chapters 3 and 4) have discussed the characteristics of different technologies and practices, and their potential and costs for the mitigation of climate change. Chapter 3 has identified numerous negative cost or “no regrets” options whose full implementation is prevented by various types of barriers. The focus of this chapter, thus, is on the various barriers that inhibit the process of technology transfer, but not on technology programmes, which are covered in Chapter 3. A “barrier” is any obstacle to reaching a potential that can be overcome by a policy, programme, or measure (Figure 5.1). This chapter describes the barriers that lie below the “socioeconomic potential” line in Figure 5.1. Barriers to technology transfer may also be viewed as opportunities for intervention by the aforementioned stakeholders so that technologies can reach their full potential. An “opportunity” is thus any situation or circumstance to decrease the gap between the “market potential” of a technology and the economic, socioeconomic, or technical potential. Barriers and opportunities tend to be context-specific, and can change over time and vary across countries. Policies, programmes, and measures may be used to take advantage of the opportunities to help overcome the barriers. The interventions are largely described and assessed in Chapter 6, although some types of interventions at the sectoral level are illustrated in Section 5.4 of this chapter.

Opportunities for climate change mitigation exist both in reducing the intensity of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the level of activities that cause these emissions. Reducing the level of an activity, for instance vehicle travel, need not reduce the services associated with it if a substitute like telecommuting can satisfy the same need. GHG mitigation can thus be achieved without sacrificing consumer welfare. Opportunities for such changes are equally important and need to be actively sought out. The interventions needed for achieving changes in the level of activity, however, can encompass the broad array of macro and micro policies that affect consumers and producers alike. In this chapter, the barriers, opportunities, and sectoral interventions for both the GHG intensity and “activity” changes are discussed. The broader macro-interventions are discussed in Chapter 6.

An element that lies largely unexplored is the connection between poverty and climate change mitigation. A large proportion of the world’s population lives in poverty, often outside a cash economy, and does not have access to modern fuels. Even when the poor are part of a cash economy, they are often deprived of access to financial instruments that require collateral. The literature on barriers and opportunities to address their need for fuels, and the consequent GHG emissions, is relatively sparse. In this chapter, the limited material on barriers, opportunities, and interventions associated with the provision of energy services to the poor is reviewed primarily in the sections on finance (Section 5.3.3), energy use in buildings (Section 5.4.1) and agriculture (Section 5.4.5).

Barriers to technology transfer have been described and classified in many different ways. Reddy (1991) classifies barriers by actors, consumers, energy providers, etc.; and others (Hirst and Brown, 1990; Evans, 1991; Hirst, 1992) by the type of barrier, financing, pricing, etc. Technological and social changes offer new opportunities for the diffusion of GHG-mitigative technologies. Rapidly changing economies and institutional and social structures offer opportunities for locking into GHG-mitigative technologies that are likely to grow over the long term. Exploiting opportunities during a period of rapid change is typically easier than in a static environment. For example, the Internet revolution means that many aspects of society and the economy are being reshaped, offering opportunities to build environmental and sustainable development practices into the emerging paradigms. At the more micro-level, the beginning of an investment cycle for power supply systems and house purchase by individuals and families is a period when they are making major purchase decisions. Governments can influence these decisions through various regulations, financial incentives and information at such times to make the new investment less-GHG intensive. Synergies exist between GHG mitigation and other policy goals, e.g., reducing transport air pollution or conserving soils. Measures to address the latter offer opportunities for GHG mitigation also. While the chapter focuses broadly on both barriers and opportunities, Sections 5.3.1 and 5.3.8 specifically review the models of, and experience with, technological and social innovation and the opportunities offered for the diffusion of GHG-mitigative technologies. Synergies too are noted throughout, but particularly so in the sectoral sections 5.4.4 through 5.4.7.

The chapter focuses not only on the energy demand and supply sectors, which have a rich literature in this field, but also on the agriculture, forestry, and waste sectors. In the introductory sections below, a conceptual framework for understanding the role of opportunities and barriers, and a review of the two earlier Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that have dealt with this topic, namely the Second Assessment Report (SAR) and the Special Report on Technology Transfer (SRTT) are presented. Section 5.3 then discusses the generic opportunities and barriers that apply across all sectors, which is followed by a discussion of the prominent barriers and opportunities in appropriate sectors of the economy.

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