Quo vadis Technology Mechanism?

What is the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism doing right now to help prepare the communities in the Philippines in advance of the Cyclone Kammuri? The transformative role of appropriate climate technologies is indisputable, and it will be increasingly important as climate change accelerates. Nine years ago, the Technology Mechanism (TM) was created to enhance technology development and transfer in developing countries. Next year we enter the implementation phase of the Paris Agreement. But what has actually been achieved in the course of the years is simply not enough, and there is an urgent need to evaluate if any transformative change on the ground has been delivered.

The Technology Executive Committee (TEC), as the policy arm of the TM, is, among other things, supposed to provide (much needed) guidance on climate technologies. Any policy guidance developed at a global level is meaningful only if it is mainstreamed into robust policies at national levels. Yet, it was crystal clear in the TEC side event that the committee cannot provide any feedback on performance. In this time of a climate emergency, each action needs to be accountable. We can’t follow the old ways of empty words, nor can we justify expert meetings that do not result in tangible improvements for those at the forefront of climate change. How has TEC ensured that policies are inclusive? How will the guidance from TEC ensure a synergy between Nationally Determined Contributions and Technology Action Plans? These, and many other questions remain unanswered.

The implementation arm of Climate Technology Centre Network (CTCN) has done better. CTCN can provide some concrete numbers and descriptions of technology assistance provided. But mere numbers are not enough. We need to know if the projects have answered to the needs of those hit by climate change. Most importantly, CTCN needs to ensure that their portfolio also includes technologies for loss and damage as, unfortunately - and largely due to inadequate action - many people and communities are now exceeding their adaptive capacity.

The first periodic assessment of the effectiveness and adequacy of support provided to the TM is to be completed in 2022. But with accelerating emissions and a lack of concrete ambition, the time to consider impacts is now. ECO encourages the TM to put a priority to their monitoring and evaluation system. It is not enough just to be considered and outlined in the work plans, as it currently is. It needs to become a core part of the TM’s work. ECO reminds the parties: ultimately, you are accountable to the people, not only to the COP.

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