36.1 The role of TNCs in technology cooperation on climate change in the LDCs

Christian Friis Bach , DanChurchAid, KÝbenhavn K, Denmark
Joost Haugmark Jensen , DanChurchAid, KÝbenhavn K, Denmark
Mattias SŲderberg , DanChurchAid, KÝbenhavn K, Denmark

Technology cooperation is one of the building blocks of the climate change negotiations within the UNFCCC. At COP15 in Copenhagen an international agreement will hopefully be adopted, including international regulation for CO2 emissions, actions to promote adaptation, and mechanisms to promote a scale up international technology cooperation, facilitating access to technologies relevant for both mitigation and adaptation.

Limitations in emissions will also have an effect on future and present possibilities for development and industrialisation. For developing countries this is a crucial issue as it may have great effect on their possibilities for social, industrial and economic growth. With new clean technologies developing countries could continue to develop without contributing further to CO2 emissions. At the same time climate change also effects the developing countries tremendously and there is an urgent need for adaptation. Adaptation is much more than building walls for protection against flooding and there is a need for technology cooperation to increase access to the technologies needed.

Most technologies are owned, and developed, by corporations, dominantly transnational companies (TNCs) consequently the role of the private sector is very important to consider in the negotiations about a new climate change agreement. Many of the present initiatives are relating to the private sector. Especially the submissions of the EU rely heavily on private sector mobilisation.

However, technology cooperation is not given, and an agreement in Copenhagen will only constitute the frames for efficient transfer and development of necessary technologies.† As has been underlined by Sanjaya Lall and other scholars the importance of TNCs to engage in reducing climate change and generally contribute to technology transfer is very important. TNCs control immense resources and can through their actions influence the development of capacity and capability of mitigation and adaption efforts in developing countries. In this regard both everyday activities and more carefully targeted CSR projects are of relevance.

In this report DanChurchAid aims to identify factors which are hindering as well as facilitating technology cooperation with special focus on the most vulnerable countries. We focus on areas of technology cooperation benefitting the poorest communities within both adaption and mitigation. Four types of technologies have been selected, two related to mitigation (wind power and hydropower) and two related to adaptation (drought and salinity resistant crops).

Our findings and discussions will rely on:

  • A survey including dialogue with a selection of companies as well as industry organizations

  • combined with a study of the existing literature related to the topic.

With regard to the information of the private companies we have composed a sample of more than 50 companies engaged in operations which include technologies that would obviously improve mitigation and adaption efforts in developing countries. In the dialogue with these companies not all of them, however, realise how important their technologies may be for people in the least developed countries (LDCs) faced with increasingly stronger climate change affecting their lives and livelihoods.

While a number of studies with a different focus have been published on technology transfer or intellectual property rights in relation to climate change, similar studies related to developing countries and especially least developed countries are scarce in numbers. The more general studies on technology cooperation suggest a variation of views on intellectual property rights, which technologies are the more important and capacity building.

The report concludes with a number of specific policy recommendations for how to increase technology cooperation remarkably, where considerations on intellectual property rights regulation and capacity building are the main focus. Contrary to a recent EU study we find intellectual property rights partially to be a barrier and suggest that the present regulative framework may reduce or delay technology cooperation if no alterations are made.