Comments on Major Economies Forum Announcement by United States, Italy, India and Australia
As we approach the endgame of the Copenhagen climate change negotiations, members of the Major Economies Forum, a group of the largest emitting nations, announced a $350m technology transfer program to support developing countries a series of action plans for key climate technologies and a US led clean energy innovation Ministerial discussion.
Secretary Chu of the United States Department of Energy, along with representatives from Italy, India and Australia, came together to make the announcements which mark the culmination of the first six months work by the world’s major economies to shape the pathway for future efforts to develop and deploy technologies.
“These initiatives can help achieve the step-change required within innovation and diffusion to keep the increase in global temperatures well below 2°C if they are accompanied by legally binding treaties that ensure sustainable global emissions reductions,”
said Shane Tomlinson, Programme Leader, Systems for Change, E3G.
“At the same time, the reports highlight the scale of the technology challenge – underscoring the need for an additional USD 14-32 billion per annum public energy RD&D spending to achieve climate goals.”
While initiatives such at this are necessary to accelerate technology innovation, establishing the right foundational agreement in the UNFCCC is essential to allow enterprises such as the Major Economies Forum to deliver and ensure countries can count their actions toward internationally agreed targets.
Negotiators need to agree new institutions in Copenhagen to operationalise the technology action plans, coordinate activity and provide criteria for measuring, reporting and verifying funding support. This balance of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ action under the UNFCCC would overcome the dangers of relying on one central fund but still provide full transparency and accountability.
Institutional arrangements alone are not enough. World leaders should come together in Copenhagen to address some of the major issues which the Major Economies Forum has highlighted. The major economies should commit to double public spending on energy related research, development and demonstration by 2012 and quadruple it by 2020. To support global decarbonisation countries should also ensure that 15% of this increase is designated for cooperative initiatives with developing countries. Copenhagen is the moment to agree ambitious technology development objectives for renewable energy, energy intensity, adaptation technologies and access to energy for the poor.
But, whatever the outcome, Copenhagen can only be a beginning and not an end for delivering a transformational technology agenda. As such it is important that initiatives that accelerate innovation and increase investment, such as the Major Economies Forum, can continue to compliment the formal UN negotiations. The Global Partnership can build momentum and raise ambition by creating innovative solutions to technology issues. Climate REDI (Renewables, Efficiency Deployment Initative) launched today is one example of such a proposal. This comprises four key elements: a programme to promote access to solar and light emitting diode (LED) technology; an efficiency programme for equipment and appliances; a technology information platform; and a renewable energy programme under the World Bank. These initiatives can act as pathfinders to develop the new mechanisms which we need to put all economies onto a low carbon trajectory. The Major Economies Forum should continue to develop such initiatives and broaden its scope to focus on often neglected areas such as adaptation technologies.
Nations will also have to find a way to resolve some of the difficult issues which they often fail to grapple with in the formal settings which the United Nations process provides. The innovation Ministerial meetings launched today, and which are open to all interested parties not just the largest countries, should aim to make progress on some of these issues, including knowledge sharing and intellectual property rights.
In the intense atmosphere of Copenhagen it is easy to see all issues as negotiating chips in a grand bargain on climate change. In the past that is exactly how technology transfer has been treated. However, to truly succeed the Copenhagen outcome must catalyse and leverage wider action. Achieving this requires an emphasis to build the right UNFCCC institutions but also to launch a new phase in outside initiatives such as the Major Economies Forum.
1. E3G is an independent, non-profit European organisation operating in the public interest to accelerate the global transition to sustainable development. E3G builds cross-sectoral coalitions to achieve carefully defined outcomes, chosen for their capacity to leverage change. E3G works closely with like-minded partners in government, politics, business, civil society, science, the media, public interest foundations and elsewhere.
2. E3G’s portfolio on similar subject includes:
Breaking the Climate Deadlock: Technology for Low Carbon Future
Innovation and Technology Transfer: Framework for a Global Climate Deal
UNFCCC Technology Institutional Structure: Identifying Convergence in Country Submissions
Be careful what you wish for
Financial assessment of the technology proposals under the UNFCCC: an E3G-ECN report
3. For further information and to secure interviews with E3G members at COP 15 in Copenhagen please see E3G’s Media Advisory Pack for Copenhagen.