Accessing, Obtaining and Protecting
Elgar Law, Technology and Society series
Edited by Abbe E.L. Brown
Chapter 6: Climate change, technology transfer and intellectual property rights: a modest exercise in thinking outside the box
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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