New fund mooted for transfer of clean technology

By Joydeep Gupta, IANS

Bali (Indonesia) : Over 10,000 delegates from 187 countries gathered here for the Dec 3-14 UN conference on climate change Wednesday started discussing the possibility of setting up a fund that would help transfer technology to developing countries and buy out patents to help fight global warming.

Support TwoCircles

This will be separate from the adaptation fund that is expected to be operationlised during the climate change summit here and which is meant to help developing countries adapt to adverse effects of global warming – including reduced agricultural output, water scarcity, more frequent and more damaging droughts, floods, and storms and a rise in sea level – now and in the future.

The Chinese government in Beijing Tuesday suggested the formation of a technology transfer fund. Reacting to that, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Yvo de Boer disclosed here that the possibility of setting up the fund was under discussion.

The size of the fund, who would pay for it, and who would administer it have not been decided yet. For the fund, a blend of private and public money would be a good option, de Boer said.

As for the adaptation fund, de Boer agreed that its current size of $36 million is clearly insufficient compared to the money needed to adapt to climate change – the most conservative assessment made by the UN has placed it at $40 billion.

But the UNFCCC executive secretary expected the fund to have more money soon, “if the clean development mechanism (CDM) works well”.

The adaptation fund consists of a two percent levy on CDM projects. Between 2008 and 2012 – when the current agreement to combat climate change, the Kyoto Protocol, comes to an end – the fund could be between $80 million and $300 million per year, de Boer said.

This year, the CDM process has amassed $5 billion and the $36 million in the adaptation fund is far less than two percent of that. Asked about this, de Boer said there was a time lag between the money gathered through CDM and its flow into the adaptation fund.

It has been decided at the summit here that the UNFCCC would help developing countries prepare national adaptation strategies, de Boer added. Talking of the need for urgent adaptation to climate change, he said: “Delay in action on adaptation is a direct attack on the poor” as they are the ones worst affected by global warming.

Whether the adaptation fund would have more money after 2012 was an issue to be discussed at the Bali summit and thereafter, the UNFCCC said. But on its part, it will push for more money.

“Current sources of official development assistance are insufficient to cover the adaptation needs as estimated” by various UN bodies and other experts, it pointed out.

According to the UNFCCC, “Calculations indicate that available per capita money for adaptation in developing countries ranges from between three cents and $3.82 per year.”

What are the ways in which developing countries can adapt to climate change? UNFCCC listed seven options:

* Managerial options such as changing crop patterns and species

* Technological options such as increasing sea defences or flood-proof houses

* Behaviour changes at the individual level, such as the sparing use of water in times of drought

* Early warning systems for extreme events

* Improved risk management

* Insurance options

* Biodiversity conservation to reduce the impacts of climate change on people, for example, by conserving and restoring mangroves to protect people from storms.