4.10.1 Equity and the Technology Transfer issue
The selection of technology for the purposes of transfer may have a serious
impact on distribution issues:
Allocation of Emission entitlements
The climate change issue can be explained as the issue of how the rights to
use and pollute resources will be shared among countries and people. The allocation
of emission entitlements/targets is thus a crucial issue and will have an impact
on technology choices. The initial distribution of rights both nationally and
internationally may be a major bottleneck to the technology transfer process.
Theoretically, a 'fair' allocation of emission allowances to all countries would
allow the 'underusers' of such allowances to sell their allowances to 'overusers'
of such allowances. Such an instrument would thus provide an incentive to 'overusers'
to reduce their emission levels and help to redistribute resources to 'underusers'
who generally would be the poorer countries. By allowing the market to function,
the cheapest way of reducing the necessary global reductions in emissions can
be achieved (UNCTAD, 1995; Agarwal and Narain, 1992). However, the critical
issue is how should the initial allocations of emission allowances be undertaken?
The recent literature indicates a proliferation of articles that discuss the
definition of equity. These include allocation based rules which include, in
addition to per capita principles, the principles of equal rights to pollute,
the polluter pays principle, the basic needs approach, outcome-based rules such
as equal abatement costs, equal percentage net GDP loss, compensation to net
losers, etc. (Banuri et al., 1996; Metz, 1999). Both legal precedent and the
scientific literature do not point towards an optimum approach. Whatever agreements
are made on modalities at the international level and on the decisions about
approaches, these are likely to affect the outcomes of technology transfer within
countries. The way the allocations of emission allowances are distributed would
help to determine the potential for financing technology cooperation between
countries (in terms of demand for CDM and JI, for example).
Adaptation versus mitigation
The climate change issue can be addressed through emission limitation measures
and adaptation measures. Since available funds are limited, the issue of prioritising
technology becomes central. Adaptation technologies tend to help local people
adapt and may be seen as a local impact, and, until now the emphasis has been
on limitation technologies which are seen as contributing to the solution to
the global problem of climate change. Bodansky (1993) explains "adaptation
measures generate primarily local benefits, so that developed countries have
little incentive to fund adaptation measures". Until recently (see section
4.5), little attention had been given to activating the CoP1 decisions on
adaptation and has adaptation played only a marginal part in the reports produced
by IPCC. This reflects the limited attention given to adaptation by scientists
as well as policy-makers worldwide. In his elaborate review of the Working Group
II volume of the IPCC Second Assessment Report, Kates (1997) suggested the reason
for this lies in the existence of two distinct schools of thought about climate
change, both of which have chosen not to encourage adaptation research and planning.
The "preventionist" school argues that the ongoing increase of atmospheric
greenhouse-gas concentrations could be catastrophic, and that drastic action
is required to reduce emissions. Preventionists fear that increased emphasis
on adaptation will weaken society's willingness to reduce emissions and thus
delay or diminish mitigation efforts. The "adaptationist" school,
on the other hand, sees no need to focus on neither adaptation nor mitigation.
They argue that both natural and human systems have a long history of adapting
naturally to changing circumstances and that active adaptation will bring with
it high social costs (Kates, 1997).
The increasing awareness of climate change not as a theoretical phenomenon but
as a genuine threat has led to the emergence of a third school of thought, which
Klein and MacIver (in press) have labelled the "realist" school. The
realist school regards climate change as a fact, but acknowledges that impacts
are still uncertain. Further, realists appreciate that the planning and implementation
of effective adaptation options takes time. Therefore, they understand that
a process must be set in motion to consider adaptation as a crucial and realistic
response option along with mitigation (e.g., Parry et al., 1998;
The least developing countries, and particularly the small island states, are
putting increased emphasis on this side of the issue. Vulnerability indices
are being developed, for example, by SPREP and UNEP. Adaptation technologies
which involve institutional infrastructures (for example in agriculture, health
and human settlement planning) could be integrated with other parts of efforts
to alleviate poverty and promote development, but it is not yet clear if there
is much joined-up thinking in evidence at the donor level.
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