Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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3. Technology Transfer: A Sectoral Analysis

Domestic actions, and those taken in co-operation with other countries, will require an increased penetration of environmentally sound technologies, many of which are particularly important in their application to each sector. What is the potential for the penetration of mitigation and adaptation technologies? What barriers exist to the increased penetration of such technologies? Can these be overcome through the implementation of a mix of judicious policies, programmes and other measures? What can we learn from past experience in promoting these, or similar, technologies? Is it better to intervene at the R&D stage or during the end-use of fuels and technology? The chapters in this section address these questions using examples specific to each sector. Technology transfer activities may be evaluated at three levels - macro or national, sector-specific and project-specific. Many of the options explored are at the latter two levels.

Greenhouse gas emissions from some sectors described are larger than those from other sectors, and the importance of each greenhouse gas varies across sectors and countries as well. Methane, for instance, is a much bigger contributor to emissions from agricultural activity than, for instance, from the industry sector. Table TS5 shows the carbon emissions from energy use in 1995. Emissions from electricity generation are allocated to the respective consuming sector. Carbon emissions from the industrial sector clearly constitute the largest share, while those derived from agricultural energy use have the smallest share. In terms of growth rates of carbon emissions, however, the fastest growing sector is transport and buildings. With rapid urbanisation promoting increased use of fossil fuels for habitation and mobility, the two sectors are likely to continue to grow faster than others in the future. Carbon emissions from fossil fuels used to generate electricity amounted to 1,762 Mt C of the total for all sectors in Table TS5.

Table TS5 Carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion in Mt C (Price et al., 1998)
AND(%SHARE) 1995
    (1971-90) (1990-95)
Industry 2370 (43%) 1.7 0.4


  • Residential
  • Commercial
1172 (21%)
584 (10%)
Transport 1227 (22%) 2.6 2.4
Agriculture 223 (4%) 3.8 0.8
All Sectors 5577 (100%) 2.0 1.0
Electricity Generation* 1762 (32%) 2.3 1.7

Note: Emissions from energy use only; does not include feedstocks or carbon dioxide from calcination in cement production. Biomass = no emissions.
* Includes emissions only from fuels used for electricity generation. Other energy production and transformation activities discussed in Chapter 10 are not included.

Technology transfer includes steps within and across countries by actors who are engaged in promoting the use of a particular technology along one or more pathways. The market penetration of a technology proceeds from research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) to adoption, adaptation, replication and development. At a project-specific level, the elements of the pathway are different, and may proceed from project formulation, feasibility studies, loan appraisals, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and verification of carbon benefits.

The pathways that differ from sector to sector usually include many actors, starting with laboratories for RD&D, manufacturers, financiers and project developers, and eventually the customer whose production capacity or welfare is hopefully enhanced through their use. This presumption needs to be carefully established through an assessment of technology needs of the customer. A poor needs assessment can result in ineffective technology transfer that could have been avoided had the assessment fully captured the social, and other attributes of the technology. The actors may make specific types of arrangements - joint ventures, public-private parnerships, licensing, etc., that are mutually beneficial. These arrangements will define the particular pathway chosen for technology transfer.

The spread of a technology may occur through transfer within a country and then transfer to other countries, both may occur simultaneously, or transfer across countries may precede that within a country. Generally, the spread of a technology is more likely to proceed along the first option rather than the other two, since the transfer of technologies to markets within a country is likely to be less expensive given the proximity to the market, and lower barriers to the penetration of that technology in the indigenous markets. Transfer of technology from one country to another will generally face trade and other barriers both in the initiating and recipient country, which may dissuade manufacturers and suppliers from implementing such transfer.

Many market barriers prevent the adoption of cost-effective mitigation options in developing countries. Market barriers can be divided in more common barriers which are more or less relevant for all sectors (see the above section on "Barriers to the transfer of ESTs and Table TS3 and TS4) and barriers specific for each sector. For example, the presence of subsidies for electricity and fuels are highly relevant for ESTs in the energy sector, but also affects the transfers of ESTs in the transport sector (through subsidised fuel costs), the building and industry sector (the viability of energy efficient technologies), waste sector (electricity generation from waste) and even in agriculture and forestry (it affects the demand for biomass fuels such as agricultural waste and wood). On the other hand, barriers like the risks of drought, fire and pests are very sector-specific and mostly affect the forestry and agriculture sectors.

What conditions and policies are necessary to overcome these barriers and successfully put in place technologies for mitigation and adaptation? There is no pre-set answer to enhancing technology transfer. The combination of barriers and actors in each country creates a unique set of conditions, requiring "custom" implementation strategies. Each of the sector specific chapters discusses the barriers that are particularly important to a sector, such as fuel and electricity price subsidies, weak institutional and legal frameworks, lack of trained personnel, etc. Each chapter also provides examples and case studies to highlight the barriers, and policies, programmes and measures that were used, or could be developed, to overcome them.

Adaptation technologies
The general dynamics of technology transfer apply to the transfer of climate mitigation and adaptation technologies. Nevertheless, it is important to note the special characteristics of adaptation technologies that distinguish them from mitigation technologies.

Many impacts of climate change will impinge on collective goods and systems, such as food and water security, biodiversity and human health and safety. These impacts could affect commercial interests indirectly, but usually the strongest and most direct incentives to adapt are with the public sector. The use and transfer of many adaptation technologies world-wide has occurred because of societal interventions, not as a result of market forces. Examples of such interventions include direct governmental expenditures, regulations and policies and public choices.

Apart from the government being a dominant stakeholder in technology transfer for adaptation, four more characteristics often distinguish adaptation from mitigation to climate change. Each of these characteristics also represents a barrier to adaptation and associated technology transfer:

  • Uncertainty concerning the role of greenhouse gases in causing climate change has been reduced, but uncertainty about the location, rate and magnitude of impacts is still considerable, which could hamper effective anticipatory adaptation.
  • Adaptation technologies will often address site-specific issues, and will therefore have to be designed and implemented keeping local considerations in mind. This could hamper large-scale technology repetition.
  • As opposed to benefits of mitigation, which are global (reduced atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations), benefits of adaptation are primarily local. For this reason, adaptation projects thus far have attracted limited interest from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other donors.
  • The implementation of mitigation technologies can contribute to the development of a country's energy-consuming sectors, while adaptation technologies are primarily aimed at preventing or reducing impacts on these and other sectors. As such, adaptation is often not considered a development objective.

In spite of adaptation often not being considered a development objective, governments have a number of clear incentives and opportunities to start planning for adaptation. For example, many adaptation technologies do not only reduce vulnerability to anticipated impacts of climate change but also to contemporary hazards associated with climate variability. It could be considered "no-regret" adaptation or "climate safe development", having utility both now and in the future, even if climate change were not to occur. In addition, adaptation options need to be designed keeping site-specific natural and socio-cultural circumstances in mind. Strengthening technological, institutional, legal and economic capacities as well as raising awareness are important for effective adaptation and technology transfer, for no adaptation option will be successful when it is implemented in an environment that is not ready, willing or able to receive the option.

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