Intellectual Property and Climate Change

Intellectual Property and Climate Change

Inventing Clean Technologies

Intellectual Property and the Environment series

Matthew Rimmer

In the wake of the international summits in Copenhagen and Cancún, there is an urgent need to consider the role of intellectual property law in encouraging research, development, and diffusion of clean technologies to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. This book charts the patent landscapes and legal conflicts emerging in a range of fields of innovation – including renewable forms of energy, such as solar power, wind power, and geothermal energy; as well as biofuels, green chemistry, green vehicles, energy efficiency, and smart grids.

Chapter 3: Energy Poverty: The World Intellectual Property Organization and the Development Agenda

Matthew Rimmer

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, innovation and technology, technology and ict, law - academic, environmental law, intellectual property law


When the world is hot and you don’t have access to electricity, your ability to adapt to climate change is dangerously limited . . . Today more than ever, economic growth comes with an on/off switch. Energy today unlocks so much more knowledge, unleashes so much more potential, provides so much more protection, and, as a result, creates so much more stability than it used to. Therefore, energy poverty not only holds back the world’s most vulnerable people – it deprives the rest of us of their potential contributions. Thomas Friedman, Hot, Flat and Crowded1 The United Nations Millennium Development Goals include the ambitions to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and disease; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.2 Goal number 7 – ensuring environmental sustainability – has a number of components. The first target is to ‘integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources’.3 As a result, ‘Immediate action is needed to contain rising greenhouse gas emissions’ and ‘Success in limiting ozone-depleting substances is also helping to mitigate climate change.’4 The second target is to ‘reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss’.5 The third target is to ‘halve, by 1 Friedman, Thomas (2008), Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why The World Needs A Green Revolution – And How We Can Renew Our Global Future, New York: Penguin Books, 158. 2 United...

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