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Technology transfer to developing countries has been identified as essential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. However, existing analyses underplay the influence of wider normative principles in shaping institutions for technology transfer in global climate governance. This article uses discourse analysis to explore the ideas and assumptions underlying technology transfer institutions both within and outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This discourse analysis identifies four key periods in the development of technology transfer institutions in global climate governance. In the first three periods, technology transfer institutions embody discourses ranging from green governmentality to deregulatory ecological modernization. In the fourth period, the post-Copenhagen Technology Mechanism embodies a broader discursive landscape that parallels a more fundamental contest over the extent to which redistributive claims are allowed to shape institutions of global climate governance.