Environmental Technologies, Intellectual Property and Climate Change

Environmental Technologies, Intellectual Property and Climate Change

Accessing, Obtaining and Protecting

Elgar Law, Technology and Society series

Edited by Abbe E.L. Brown

Many disciplines are relevant to combating climate change. This challenging book draws together legal, regulatory, geographic, industrial and professional perspectives and explores the role of technologies in addressing climate change through mitigation, adaptation and information gathering. It explores some key issues. Is intellectual property part of the solution, an obstacle to change or peripheral? Are there more important questions? Do they receive the attention they deserve? And from whom? This innovative book will play an important role in stimulating holistic discussion and action on an issue of key importance to society.

Chapter 6: Climate change, technology transfer and intellectual property rights: a modest exercise in thinking outside the box

Krishna Ravi Srinivas

Subjects: development studies, law and development, environment, climate change, innovation and technology, technology and ict, law - academic, environmental law, human rights, intellectual property law, law and development, politics and public policy, human rights


Technology transfer (TT) in the context of climate change has been one of the key objectives of UNFCCC as enshrined in Articles 4.1, 4.3, 4.5 and 4.7. UNFCCC’s approach towards TT is based on the principle that developed countries are developers and suppliers of technology, while developing nations are recipients of the same, and developing countries need TT, assistance in capacity building and financial support. The traditional understanding of TT has been that it is a one-way flow between providers and recipients. But inevitably the discourse of TT has often been framed in North–South divergences on various aspects related to TT. After analyzing what are called the ‘political discourses’ of development and diffusion and ‘development discourse’, it is clear that while intellectual property right (IPR) is the thorniest issue in UNFCCC negotiations, even without the IPR question, low-carbon technology transfer as such remains one of the most difficult issues in UNFCCC negotiations. A holistic perspective on IPR and TT will need to take into account matters such as human rights, and the chapters in this volume provide ample food for thought in understanding the case for a holistic perspective. I have summarized the different views on IPR and TT in the context of climate change elsewhere. On an issue like this, there is always scope to think in terms of new options and potential strategies that may work within the current global framework on IPR and to explore options that have not received much attention in the literature.

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