Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Seminar highlights distrust in tech transfer pledges

[NEW DELHI] Instead of waiting endlessly for transfer of climate change mitigation and adaptation  technologies from developed countries, developing countries can resort to indigenous technologies, common technologies and stronger south-south cooperation, policy analysts have suggested.

Participants at a seminar on trade and technology in energy use and climate change, held in New Delhi on 29 September, said that while global negotiations harp on the importance of technology transfer in tackling climate change, developed countries withhold technology citing weak intellectual property (IPR) laws in recipient countries.

"Developed countries have always made this an excuse to push for stronger IPRs and enforcing TRIPS plus agreements in developing countries. These, however, have been found to further hinder use of patented technology," said Nitya Nanda, fellow at the centre for global agreements at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi.

Case studies from India, described in a discussion paper by Nanda and Nidhi Srivastava, another TERI fellow, showed that many imported technologies were unsuitable. For example, wind turbines designed for sub-zero temperatures, dust-free environments and European wind flows had high failure rates.

"Additionally, technologies transferred in the form of a 'black box' were not found useful in the long run because they could not be indigenised," Indira Barpujari, associate fellow at TERI, said. 

Dependence on developed countries for technology transfer is leading to loss of time for developing countries trying to make their systems energy efficient and adapt to the rapid changes resulting from climate change, Saikat Sinha Roy, professor of trade and development at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, said.

Roy suggested that exposure to competition would push India to develop its own efficient technologies.

Krishna Ravi Srinivas, faculty member, Research and Information Systems for Developing Countries, New Delhi, suggested stronger South-South joint R&D, technology transfer and diffusion and technology commons to overcome lack of technologies for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

"We can identify technologies where South-South can combine capabilities with needs to deliver appropriate solutions, and also explore ideas like eco-patent commons and technology commons in the line of creative commons," he said.