Accessing, Obtaining and Protecting
Elgar Law, Technology and Society series
Edited by Abbe E.L. Brown
Chapter 3: Failure is not an option: enhancing the use of intellectual property tools to secure wider and more equitable access to climate change technologies
As governments around the world struggle to formulate national and international responses to the unprecedented challenges presented by climate change, one area of controversy has been the role intellectual property (IP) should play in addressing these challenges. This chapter is a contribution to the project ‘Obtaining, Protecting and Using Essential Environmental Technologies’, coordinated by the University of Edinburgh, to answer the question: ‘How best to secure wider and more equitable access to technologies which can reduce emissions.’ It follows on the initial research paper Towards a Holistic Approach to Technology and Climate Change: What Would Form Part of an Answer. This chapter begins with the premise that the role of intellectual property must be considered in any response to questions regarding policies necessary to enhance innovation. On the one hand, there is general agreement that the development of new technology will be critical to efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and to adapt to its consequences. There is a clear need to provide sufficient incentives for the private sector and other stakeholders to continue to develop these technologies. Intellectual property is widely recognized to be important for and, in the view of some, a prerequisite to innovation. Nonetheless, concerns remain that intellectual property may, at least in certain circumstances, create a barrier to diffusion of climate-related technologies. Thus, the challenge. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requires parties to promote the development and diffusion of climate-related technologies. Developed countries, in particular, are required to promote the transfer of, or access to, ‘environmentally sound technologies’.
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