Working Group III: Mitigation

Other reports in this collection Technology Transfer: National Aspects Research and Development: Supply Side

Research and development (R&D) is a process of forming new ideas and transforming them into products and services. Technology capacity at both the assessment and replication stages of the technology transfer process have to be underpinned by R&D. Central to this process are national systems of innovation and international co-operation between public research institutions and private-sector entities in R&D. Governments have been investing for three decades in R&D for ESTs in the energy sector. There may be a case for seeing whether results from this process have been used and disseminated sufficiently. Developing countries’ R&D efforts are often adaptive, following externally developed technology, which suggests the need for additional resources to develop indigenous innovative capacity. The activities at all stages of technological development and implementation are necessary to attain short-term and long-term technical results (Elliot and Pye, 1998). In the field of climate change, R&D of mitigation and adaptation technologies can reduce the costs of implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures, and provides decision makers with viable alternatives in the formulation of response strategies to climate change.

The process of technological innovation includes not only research and development, but also innovation in the design of products, technological processes, and manufacturing, and innovation in management and market exploration. The private sector has played an important role in the development of energy-efficiency technologies, and is becoming increasingly active in developing renewable-energy technologies (Forsyth, 1999). The bulk of R&D and technology transfer in the energy sector is mainly driven by oil, natural gas, and power supply companies. Other energy supply technologies, such as coal, nuclear, and renewable sources, are often dependent on governments to preserve or increase their presence in the market. Governments can play an important role in R&D as follows:

  • establish a National System of Innovation—institutional and organizational structures to support technological development and innovation21;
  • build and strengthen scientific and technical educational institutions and modify the form or operation of technology networks;
  • guide the advancement in science and technology and the direction of investment through industrial and technological policies, and provide suggestions and consultation to enterprises;
  • encourage enterprises to increase investment in R&D of ESTs through effective policies and create a favourable environment for the innovative activities of enterprises;
  • make efforts to increase R&D investments through the governmental budget to accelerate the formation of diversified investment and financing systems, including different kinds of loans;
  • give policy support to R&D to encourage the development of innovative technologies and products in the field of climate change, including preferential tax policies, import and export tax policies, and government procurement policies;
  • develop modalities for the transfer of public owned or supported ESTs;
  • provide funds for licensing of patented ESTs entities to encourage the private-sector to transfer ESTs they own to developing countries.

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