When India is going to declare its net-zero emissions goal is the most favourite topic of debate nowadays in the run-up to CoP26 in Glasgow. The expectation, naturally, is a 2050 timeframe. While every other day its desirability and feasibility are being discussed, one crucial dimension gets the short shrift, namely domestic research, development, and innovation.
The stated governmental position remains archaic as it has been since the beginning of climate change negotiations: emphasizing on enabling mechanisms for technology transfer by developed nations. Notwithstanding the fact that largely the technology development occurs in the private sector and the resultant Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) have commercial value, our expectations remain that the UN Framework Convention would somehow transcend these very real barriers helping us access climate-technologies cheaply.
It would be instructive to learn from Covid-19 pandemic where even in the face of the largest human crisis of our times, developed countries are fighting tooth and nail in WTO to deny temporary waiver of vaccines’ IPRs to the needy countries.
The critical question, therefore, is, can a paradigm shift in our economy, irrespective of the timeline, be dependent solely on terms dictated by other countries for technology transfer?