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Technology Transfer Deal Likely in Cancun, but Nitty Gritty Missing

Still up in the air are critical elements: how financing will flow, who will govern the scheme and intellectual property rights

By Stacy Feldman

Dec 9, 2010

CANCUN, MEXICO -- A global agreement on technology that would pass cleantech solutions from rich nations to poor is possible in Cancun, according to officials and observers in the negotiations. But some of the most crucial and contentious details of the program are being left for another time.

Still up in the air are critical elements like how technology financing will flow, who will govern the scheme and the extent of global intellectual property rights (IPR).  

Despite the holes, "tech transfer" is seen as one of the furthest along and least controversial aspects of a potential Cancun package at the Nov. 29 to Dec. 10 talks.

With the summit less than 48 hours from its scheduled end, UN officials appear eager to wrap up a tech deal in talks that may otherwise produce little progress.

A technology pact is "ripe for adoption," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared on Tuesday evening. "We hope that this green technology could be disseminated as widely and as soon as possible."

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the (UNFCCC), was more matter of fact.

It is "well advanced"  but "not finalized," she told reporters. "Issues related to institutional arrangements" are still unsettled.

China, India, Brazil, South Africa and India the so-called BASIC nations — made tech transfer progress one of their three Cancun "non-negotiables." The U.S. position, however, is complicating matters, observers say. 

The delegation has said it would block tech transfer if emerging economies fail to do more to curb their emissions and verify cuts.

Negotiators Punt on IPR

A transfer scheme would require industrialized nations to hand over clean technologies, along with the know-how for how to use and manufacture them. 

The goal is to help developing states "leapfrog" over coal and into the clean energy economy. Few dispute its value.

"Technology transfer is certainly an important part of mitigation," Rajendra Pachauri, head of the (IPCC), told SolveClimate News. But solutions "cannot be para-dropped," he said. "It really has to be a collaborative effort ... with local institutions and local communities."

One seemingly intractable barrier is IPR, with discussions marred by the same rich-poor rift that has dominated the broader negotiations.

The G77 group of 130 developing countries wants rich states to share their green technologies openly. Rich nations led by the U.S. and Japan, whose companies own most of the world's low-carbon energy patents, are opposed.

To no one's surprise, negotiators from the 194 parties that make up the UNFCCC punted on the issue in Cancun. 

The latest bracket-filled , released on Wednesday and expected to go to high-level ministers and heads of state, deferred discussions until 2011.

"We have seen very strong resistance from developed countries to even talk about intellectual property," Chee Yoke Ling of the Malaysia-based non-profit told reporters on Wednesday.

The delay is a "denial" of the enormous importance of IPR, she said.

"It's been a very ideological fight," Lutz Weischer, a climate research analyst with the , told SolveClimate News.

Bolivia and Venezuela continue to press for stronger measures.

"It's a trust issue for developing countries," Victor Menotti, executive director of the non-profit , told SolveClimate News. "They're told they can't use fossil fuels anymore ... They've been asking for help with these technologies and flexibility in the patents."

Rich countries have their own concerns.

Companies are not willing to give up technology to countries with weak IPR enforcement, Weischer said. 

Si se puede!


This is not complicated! Share the technology. It is that simple. Plant trees. Invest and subsidize the cost for Solar, wind and Geo-thermal projects and implement this technology. Give it away. 

The problem is money, or simply put economics. There is no profit in saving the planet and this is unfortunate. I have the designs and ideas globaly but there is no interest because it makes no money. 

For 10 years I have tried to get funding. Not until now, is there interest. I hope it is not to late. 

The choice we have to make is:

Life on this planet or profit.

What good is profit if we are all dead, the trees are all gone, the air is poison. There is a special quote from an indigenousness tribe.  

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.  ~Cree Indian Proverb


Juan Jose Cervantes, CEO



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