South-South Technology Cooperation: The Case of Brazil and China’s Wind Industry

In a piece prepared especially for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the authors look at the “South-South” relationship between China and Brazil to understand the extent, drivers and lessons from their technology cooperation.

By Hyosun Bae & Zoraida Velasco, 7th May, 2014.

Cooperation in the fields of technology is under the constant pressure of global competition. Countries are finding themselves in a race to increase their innovation capacity. This is particularly the case for emerging markets like Brazil and China. This race includes significant multi-dimensional commitments from government towards industry development and collaboration in an effort to develop mutually benefitting opportunities. Fully utilizing their growth in financial and technological capacity, Brazil and China have expanded their collaboration on renewable energy technology. Technology cooperation is a way to develop opportunities for reciprocal knowledge-sharing and investment. Through the use of case study and literature review, this paper analyses the bilateral cooperation between Brazil and China on wind power technology. It focuses on the public and private sectors’ research and development (R&D) of wind technology between the two countries.

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Are Advances in Technology the Only Force for Tackling Climate Change?

This essay puts forward the argument that without several revolutionary ‘black swan’ innovations, technological advances will need to be supported by strategic planning and a restructured energy market to tackle climate change.  The current market ‘lock in’ of high-carbon energies and high cost of low-carbon technologies mean that the potential for new technologies to gain widespread adoption are highly restricted.

by Jack Hamilton, 24th March, 2012

‘Environmentalists are fiddling while Rome burns’.  This is the claim of Vinod Khosla, the founder of Khosla Ventures, a venture-capital firm that is currently investing over $1 billion into low-carbon technologies in the hope that a ‘black swan’ innovation will be a key to tackling climate change.  In Khosla’s estimations the green technologies of electric cars, wind turbines and smart grids will not be enough and rather there needs to be a ‘1000%’ change if the whole world is to enjoy the energy-rich lifestyle of the Western world.  Until the green technologies are available at a price which is affordable in the developing world, ‘everything is a toy’[i].  Others maintain that existing technology will be sufficient if market factors facilitate its widespread adoption.  Joseph Romm, the editor of Climate Progress, argues that the way to tackle climate change is through the ‘accelerated deployment of existing technologies’ in order to move down the cost curve more rapidly than a breakthrough[ii].  These two opposing views set up two fundamental questions: are advances in technology alone able to tackle climate change and if this technology exists why has it not been adopted?

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