What might the Paris Agreement do for Technology?
15th June 2015
Bonn Insight series: two
Negotiators for Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are meeting in Bonn, Germany June 1-11 2015 to discuss business for the three Subsidiary Bodies ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris in December. The Global CCS Institute is attending the Bonn meeting as an accredited observer to the UNFCCC process. The Institute will provide updates from the conference on proceedings relevant to carbon capture and storage (CCS). In this Insight the Institute's Mark Bonner, Principal Manager - International Climate Change discusses the treatment of Technology under the current system and the possible changes to come from Bonn and Paris. Other Insights in this series cover the progress from the first week of Bonn, UNFCCC technology and finance mechanisms, and the role of INDCs in Paris.
Image: A presentation by Bloomberg New Energy Finance at the UNFCCC meeting in Bonn highlights the lack of progress on investment in transitional energy sources, including CCS. Picture: Global CCS Institute
Technology transfer and development is universally considered by all Parties as central to both mitigation and adaptation efforts. In this regard, the Paris Agreement ideally needs to support not only the physical aspects of technology deployment and diffusion, but also the business models and supporting infrastructure deemed so critical for both their development and utilisation.
While a ‘Technology Mechanism’ has already been established under the Convention, comprising of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) as its institutional arms, there are broader considerations as to how the technology agenda under the UNFCCC might be improved under the Paris Agreement.
UNFCCC and technology – supply and demand
A primary role of the UNFCCC currently in regards to technology is the support of demand side factors such as enhancing in-country capacity to adopt and utilise greenhouse friendly technologies (including CCS). This includes consideration of how governments can either better govern technology use and/or help investors overcome the barriers and challenges of technology adoption. A good example of this is the treatment under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of CCS as an eligible project level activity, which is focused on institutionalising its use in order to monetise its abatement outcomes within a carbon offset market.
Further consideration to the Technology Mechanism is being given in the Geneva Text which will underpin any future Paris Agreement. The Geneva Text considers how the Technology Mechanism might better support supply side factors such as the fostering of innovation, the demonstration of pre-commercial technologies and the adaptation of imported technologies to localised conditions.
Other important considerations in the Paris Agreement might also include:
- The need for strong links to be forged between the technology and finance elements (ie such as a dedicated technology platform within the Green Climate Fund (GCF))
- Whether global or national technology goals should be articulated. Some ideas not articulated in the text might include for example:
- emission intensity of new investments
- technology penetration rates for CCS, renewables and energy efficiency
- research development and demonstration (RD&D) targets and/or cost reduction rates.
The UNFCCC architecture is quite flexible in how it might formally embrace these technology related considerations. If such issues are not specifically addressed or articulated in the Paris Agreement, they may still be explored at the discretion of the Conference of the Parties (COP).