Figure 5.1: Penetration of environmentally sound technologies: a conceptual
framework. Various barriers prevent the different potentials from being
realized. Opportunities exist to overcome barriers through innovative projects,
programmes and financing arrangements. An action can address more than one
barrier. Actions may be pursued to address barriers at all levels simultaneously.
Their implementation may require public policies, measures and instruments.
The socioeconomic potential may lie anywhere in the space between the economic
and technological potential.
The transfer of technologies and practices that have the
potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is often hampered by barriers1
that slow their penetration. The opportunity2
to mitigate GHG concentrations by removing or modifying barriers to the spread
of technology may be viewed within a framework of different potentials for GHG
mitigation (Figure 5.1). The market potential
indicates the amount of GHG mitigation that might be achieved under forecast
market conditions, with no changes in policy or implementation of measures whose
primary purpose is the mitigation of GHGs. The market potential can be close
to zero as a result of extreme poverty, absence of markets, and remoteness of
communities. The inability of the poor or isolated communities to access modern
energy services reflects this situation. Because interventions to address poverty
fall outside the immediate scope of this chapter, they receive only limited
treatment here despite the intrinsic general importance of the subject.
In addition to the market potential, there is also the economic potential and
the socioeconomic potential to be considered. Eliminating imperfections of markets,
public policies, and other institutions that inhibit the diffusion of technologies
that are (or are projected to be) cost-effective for consumers (evaluated using
consumers private rate of time discounting and prices) without reference
to any GHG benefits they may generate would increase GHG mitigation to the level
defined as the economic potential. The socioeconomic
potential consists of barriers derived from peoples individual habits,
attitudes and social norms, and vested interests in the diffusion of new technology.
This potential represents the level of GHG mitigation that would be achieved
if technologies that are cost effective from a societal perspective are implemented.
Finally, some technologies might not be widely used simply because they are
too expensive from a societal perspective. This leads to the level of the technical
potential, which can be improved upon by solving scientific and technological
problems. Policies to overcome this category of barriers must be aimed at fostering
research and development (R&D).
Technological and social innovation is a complex process of research, experimentation,
learning, and development that can contribute to GHG mitigation. Several theories
and models have been developed to understand its features, drivers, and implications.
New knowledge and human capital may result from R&D spending, through learning
by doing, and/or in an evolutionary process. Most innovations require some social
or behavioural change on the part of users. Rapidly changing economies, as well
as social and institutional structures offer opportunities for locking-in to
GHG-mitigative technologies that may lead countries on to sustainable development
pathways. The pathways will be influenced by the particular socioeconomic context
that reflects prices, financing, international trade, market structure, institutions,
the provision of information, and social, cultural and behavioural factors;
key elements of which are described below.
Unstable Macroeconomic Conditions
Such conditions increase risk to private investment and finance. Unsound government
borrowing and fiscal policy lead to chronic public deficits, reducing the availability
of credit to the private sector. Trade barriers that favour inefficient technologies,
or prevent access to advanced knowledge and hardware, can slow the diffusion
of mitigation options.
Commercial Financing Institutions
These institutions face high risks when developing green financial
products. Innovative approaches in the private sector to address this and other
issues include leasing, environmental and ethical banks, micro-credits or small
grants facilities targeted at low income households, environmental funds, energy
service companies (ESCOs), and green venture capital.
Distorted or Incomplete Prices
The absence of a market price for certain impacts, such as environmental harm,
can constitute a barrier to the diffusion of environmentally beneficial technologies.
Distortion of prices arising from taxes, subsidies, or other policy interventions
that make resource consumption more or less expensive to consumers can also
impede the diffusion of resource-conserving technologies.
Information as a Public Good
Generic information regarding the availability of different kinds of technologies
and their performance characteristics has the attributes of a public good
and hence may be underprovided by the private market.
Lack of Effective Regulatory Agencies
Many countries have on their books excellent constitutional and legal provisions
for environmental protection but the latter are not enforced. However, informal
regulation under community pressure may substitute for formal regulatory
Lifestyles, Behaviours, and Consumption Patterns
These have developed within current and historical socio-cultural contexts.
Changes in behaviour and lifestyles may result from a number of intertwined
processes. Barriers take various forms in association with each of the above
Conventional Policy Development
This type of development is based on a model of human psychology, where people
are assumed to be rational welfare-maximizers, that has been widely criticized.
Such a model does not explain processes, such as learning, habituation, value
formation, or the bounded rationality observed in human choice.
The poor in every country are affected far more by barriers in this sector than
the rich, because of inadequate access to financing, low literacy rates, adherence
to traditional customs, and the need to devote a higher fraction of income to
satisfy basic needs, including fuel purchases.
Measures to overcome these barriers that have been implemented include voluntary
programmes, building efficiency standards, equipment efficiency standards, state
market transformation programmes, financing, government procurement, tax credits,
accelerated R&D, and a carbon cap and trade system.
The low relative cost of fuel, split incentives, a perception that the car is
more convenient or economical than alternatives, are some of the barriers that
slow the use of mitigation technologies in this sector. The car has also become
charged with significance as a means of freedom, mobility and safety, a symbol
of personal status and identity, and as one of the most important products in
the industrial economy. A combination of policies protecting road transport
interests, rather than any single policy, poses the greatest barrier to change.
Barriers include the high transaction costs for obtaining reliable information,
the use of capital for competing investment priorities, high-hurdle rates for
energy efficiency investments, lack of skilled personnel for small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs), and the low relative cost of energy. Information programmes,
environmental legislation, and voluntary agreements have been used and tested
in developed countries with varying rates of success in reducing barriers.
The increasing deregulation of energy supply has raised particular concerns.
Volatile spot and contract prices, short-term outlook of private investors,
and the perceived risks of nuclear and hydropower plants have shifted fuel and
technology choice towards natural gas and oil plants, and away from hydro in
many countries. Co-generation is hampered by lack of information, the decentralized
character of the technology, the hostile attitude of grid operators, the terms
of grid connection, and lack of policies that foster long-term planning. Firm
public policy and regulatory authority are necessary to install and safeguard
harmonized conditions, transparency, and unbundling of the main power supply
Agriculture and Forestry
Adoption of new technology is limited by small farm size, credit constraints,
risk aversion, lack of access to information and human capital, inadequate rural
infrastructure and tenurial arrangements, and unreliable supply of complementary
inputs. Subsidies for critical inputs to agriculture, such as fertilizers, water
supply, and electricity and fuels, and to outputs in order to maintain stable
agricultural systems and an equitable distribution of wealth distort markets
for these products. In relation to climate change mitigation, other issues such
as lack of technical capability, lack of credibility about setting project baselines,
and monitoring of carbon stocks pose difficult challenges.
The principal barriers to technology transfer include limited financing and
institutional capability, jurisdictional complexity, and the need for community
involvement. Climate change mitigation projects face further barriers owing
to the unfamiliarity with methane (CH4) capture and potential electricity
generation, unwillingness to commit additional human capacity for climate mitigation,
and the involvement of diverse institutions at all levels.
Changing global patterns provide an opportunity for introducing GHG mitigation
technologies and practices that are consistent with development, equity, and
sustainability (DES) goals. A culture of energy subsidies, institutional inertia,
fragmented capital markets, vested interests, etc., however, presents major
barriers to their implementation in the developing countries and those with
economies in transition (EIT). Situations in these two groups of countries call
for a more careful analysis of trade, institutional, financial, and income barriers
and opportunities; distorted prices and information gaps. In the developed countries,
other barriers such as the current carbon-intensive lifestyle and consumption
patterns, social structures, network externalities, and misplaced incentives
offer opportunities for intervention to control the growth of GHG emissions.
Lastly, new and used technologies mostly flow from the developed to developing
and transitioning countries. A global approach to reducing emissions that targets
technology being transferred from developed to developing countries could have
a significant impact on future emissions.