CURRENT SOCIETAL CONCERNS
Elpidio V. Peria
25 May 2013
The Philippines was recently nominated early this May by the Asia-Pacific group of countries who are Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to a seat in the Advisory Board of the Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN), a body created and made operational by the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC last year in Doha, Qatar during its 18th Meeting.
The CTCN is one of the components of the UNFCCC’s Technology Mechanism, which is aimed at realizing or implementing, and even accelerating, technology development and transfer from developed countries to developing countries, to enable the latter to better execute its adaptation and mitigation actions to cope with the challenges of climate change.
The CTCN is described as the operational arm of the Technology Mechanism, the entity that will actually work with developing countries who may have made requests for technologies that they will need for their adaptation and mitigation actions.
The other component of the Technology Mechanism is the Technology Executive Committee (TEC), a policy-making deliberative body composed also of Parties to the UNFCCC and the usual sectoral representatives.
The TEC is supposed to look at the issues relating to climate technology transfer and discuss the policy issues relating the actual conduct of technology development transfer, including recommendations relating to the establishment of technology road maps, which are aimed at guiding countries how they may undertake to develop their long-term actions to enhance their technological capacity.
The Philippines, a highly vulnerable country, is poised to take advantage of its seat in the Advisory Board of the CTCN, which is the governance entity of the CTCN, part of its tasks relate to the budget, financial report and even the workplan of the CTCN, including the establishment of prioritization criteria to handle the expected requests of developing countries for technology transfer and the criteria to determine who may further join as a member of the Network organization of the CTCN.
The CTCN, hosted by a consortium of eleven (11) organizations led by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is also expected to build the network of organizations comprising the CTCN, from these consortium members.
The Climate Change Commission has designated itself as the national designated entity to handle these requests for technology transfer, and will soon need to develop the administrative machinery to work with other key agencies like the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Agriculture to identify what are the technology needs of the country which it may request from the CTCN.
One preliminary issue facing the Climate Change Commission involve the question of whether it will still need to undergo a process of technology needs assessment (TNA) which is a long and costly process, though the practice so far internationally does not show that it has led to actual technology development and transfer.
The Climate Change Commission, established by the Climate Change Act in 2009, has already done some work articulating the Philippine National Climate Change Action Plan 2011-2028 (NCCAP) and has not yet formally released the Philippine Research and Development Agenda (PRDA) for Climate Change.
The NCCAP has already identified the thematic areas which need to be addressed by government agencies to be able to undertake effective adaptation and mitigation actions while the PRDA has already zeroed in on particular sectoral concerns or thematic areas in the NCCAP which gap relates to technology.
It remains to be seen whether these gaps relating to technology in specified thematic areas, namely, food security, water sufficiency, sustainable energy and climate-smart industries and services, would be sufficient enough as basis on which to identify further actions, like further specifying what technologies would be needed to address these gaps.
The Climate Change Commission is undertaking some effort to resolve these questions and perhaps determine if it may really have to undergo the full process of technology needs assessments as prescribed by the United Nations Environment Program in its handbook to build capacity to undertake these initiatives.
A series of roundtable discussions however, done this week, by the Philippine CSO network Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, of which the General Santos City-based BITS Policy Center, Inc. , attended mainly by representatives from the electric vehicle and the renewable energy industries indicate that technology transfer, as such, which comes from outside of the Philippines, is not a major concern or impediment, for the really interested entrepreneurs will find a way to get these technologies on its own.
The main issue, as articulated by an electric vehicle industry rep, is the creation of market demand of such magnitude that will justify investments in these areas. Once these investments are there, technology transfer will happen. Creating this demand is much a handiwork of government policy and other supportive actions done by all other agencies, how, that seems to be the question that should occupy policy planners and policy-makers for the long haul.
For the representatives of a group involved in renewable energy, the technologies are already out there and innovation is on-going in spite of difficulties and lack of capital, but again, the problem is in enabling small investors engaged in renewable energy projects in a manner that they will not be swamped by the major players now also engaged in renewable energy, but also those who undertake non-renewable energy-related projects which lock out market and policy space for these small renewable energy projects.
Ironically, they say, the Renewable Energy Act that they have lobbied for so long, for eighteen years actually, does not seem to be helping them and is actually crowding them out in a way that they find difficult to understand.