Technology Transfer Will Be Part Of Copenhagen Climate Deal 16/09/2009 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)COPENHAGEN – Technology transfer is bound to be part of a possible new international climate deal at the high-level meeting in Copenhagen in December, according to officials. Meanwhile, international economists have concluded that such transfers constitute a win-win situation for developed and developing countries when it comes to combating climate change. The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) will take place on 7-18 December. There is “no doubt that technology transfers (TTs) will have to be part of a Copenhagen [climate] agreement” in December, which “will result in enhanced technology transfers to developing countries,” Adrian Lema, climate negotiator at the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy, told Intellectual Property Watch. The question is just how, he said. In the current draft of the agreement, available here [pdf], which includes all proposals from all the countries, there are various TTs proposed, such as sharing of knowledge, joint research and development projects, capacity building, new demonstration projects and technology excellence centres. The negotiations have largely been split along North-South lines with some seeing intellectual property rights as barriers and others as key to innovation and development, Lema said. IP issues, however, have only been one among many issues under the “technology transfers and development” discussions, he said. And although the full range of IP positions are represented in the current draft – from compulsory licences and patent pools to strong patents – countries agree that there are several ways to enhance technology transfer and development under this deal, he said. Lema said that after the upcoming meeting in Bangkok on 28 September to 9 October, it will be clearer which key issues relating to technology that will be part of a final negotiation text. David Popp of Syracuse University and the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts (US), also thinks TTs will play a major role at the December meeting. “I think that TTs can be an important negotiating tool. Encouraging additional developing country participation is important. Developed countries can offer TT as an incentive for increased participation,” he told Intellectual Property Watch. Studies: TTs favourable Separately, Popp was one of the authors who submitted research papers to a meeting held by the Danish think tank, Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC), on alternative responses to global warming on 4 September. A total of 19 research papers were scrutinised by five top international economists at the meeting. Among the economists were Nobel Laureates Finn E. Kydland, Thomas C. Schelling and Vernon L. Smith. All were presented with the following question: “If the global community wants to spend up to, say, $250 billion per year over the next 10 years to diminish the adverse effects of climate changes, and to do most good for the world, which solutions would yield the greatest net benefits?” Two papers discussed TTs in this context, while the rest covered a wide range of economic options: Popp’s paper available here [pdf] and one written by Zili Yang, professor of economics at the State University of New York at Binghamton available here [pdf]. Both concluded that TTs are favourable as a means to reduce carbon dioxide omissions worldwide. But TTs in themselves are not seen as a policy option, they have to be part of a larger package such as the Kyoto Protocol or the upcoming COP15 deal. “TT reduces overall mitigation costs for any given climate policy target, so it is always high on priority chart[s],” Yang told Intellectual Property Watch. “TT is [a] combination of technology and international cooperation. Therefore, it is an inseparable component of any climate change policies,” he wrote in his paper. Yang also looked ahead in the paper to the December COP15 meeting: “Greenhouse gases mitigation commitment by major developing countries, such as China, India, and Brazil, is probably the focal agenda in the coming Copenhagen COP15.” Developing countries, meanwhile, are concerned that the focus is being unfairly placed on them – they after all have not been the main polluters in the past – rather than the industrialised countries that gained through some two centuries of climate-destructive practices. Spillovers Important Popp welcomed Yang’s findings but said Yang has not sufficiently emphasised the “potential for knowledge spillovers” from TTs, although he acknowledged that these effects are difficult to measure. Such spillovers can be demonstration projects, training of staff or local firms hiring from multinational firms, Popp wrote. It depends on many issues such as the recipient countries’ ability to absorb the knowledge. “Spillovers are potentially a major benefit of technology transfer,” Popp told Intellectual Property Watch. “However, it depends on the type of technology transferred. Projects that improve the technological abilities of the recipient country will have spillover benefits, such as providing training on a new technology. Simply giving a country equipment that they are unable to apply in other situations would not have spillover benefits.” Popp wrote that more than 300 patent applications were submitted to the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2006 for solar-related technologies. He referred to the “dramatic increases in inventive activity for renewable energy technologies, measured by applications for renewable energy patents submitted to the EPO, corresponding to both national policies and international efforts to combat climate change that followed signing of the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997.” But while these technologies evolve in developed countries – which bear historic responsibility for most global carbon emissions – carbon emissions also are increasing in developing countries. In 1990, China and Brazil accounted for 13 percent of global CO2 emissions; in 2004 this number had risen to 22 percent and is expected to rise to 31 percent by 2030, Popp said. This is where TTs can play a role as the spillover effects can help developing countries get on the technology wagon. Popp said that the more technological advanced a country gets, the more likely it is to sign up to more environmental regulation: “Technological advances lower the cost of compliance, making regulation more likely.” Also, TTs can be one form of compensation to developing countries, many of which fear that signing up to stringent environmental regulation will rob them of economic growth that the developed world has benefited from. Popp referred to a 2008 study of 644 Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects, which under the Kyoto agreement “allows polluters in industrialised countries with emission constraints to receive credit for financing projects that reduce emissions in developing countries.” Popp concluded that spillover effects from TTs constitute an important part of these projects and may be somewhat measured: “approximately two-thirds of all emission reductions from CDM transfers involve knowledge transfer.” Conservative findings The various proposals at the CCC meeting were ranked from one to 15, in categories from “very good” to “very poor.” On the top of the list is marine cloud whitening technology under the category “climate engineering.” “[T]he most effective use of resources would be to invest immediately in researching marine cloud whitening technology (where boats spray seawater droplets into clouds above the sea to make them reflect more sunlight back into space, reducing warming),” the press release stated. Technology transfers are listed as number seven of 15, under the category of “fair” in terms of efficient way of spending the given money. This is despite the papers’ conclusions about the benefits of this method. One can possibly argue, however, that R&D is needed before the TTs can take place, as “energy R&D” under the category “technology” was rated second in terms of cost effectiveness. Yang explained it this way: “I believe it is because of the nature of TT. It is encompassing. It is not [a] narrowly defined option. One may say that all other solutions discussed in [the meeting] contain TT components if those solutions are implemented across borders. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised that experts feel difficult to locate a precise ranking for TT.” The expert panel also concluded that there are many “problems with the current political focus on carbon taxes.” The Copenhagen Consensus Center is run by controversial statistician Bjorn Lomborg, who won international recognition with his book, “The Sceptical Environmentalist” and who has been supported by the conservative Danish government. Commission Proposal; Chatham House Study Separately, the European Commission has proposed that developed countries help fund developing countries’ expenses in mitigating their greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to ensure a deal in Copenhagen in December. The Commission said developing countries are likely to need €100 billion annually by 2020. The EU should contribute, “some 2-15 billion euros a year by 2020, assuming an ambitious agreement is reached in Copenhagen,” a press statement said. The European Parliament and Council now will consider the proposal. Also, Chatham House has published the report, “Who owns our low carbon future? Intellectual property and energy technologies.” It said the report examines patent ownership of climate-friendly technologies and the rate of technology diffusion. The Chatham House report is available here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Technology Transfer Will Be Part Of Copenhagen Climate Deal" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.