Inventing Clean Technologies
- Intellectual Property and the Environment series
Chapter 2: The TRIPS Agreement: Intellectual Property, Climate Change, and Disaster Capitalism
2. The TRIPS Agreement: intellectual property, climate change, and disaster capitalism In the absence of any compromise being reached on international climate law during ongoing global negotiations, the World Trade Organization (the WTO) and the TRIPS Agreement 1994 will provide a framework for the consideration of the relationship between intellectual property, trade and climate change. The climate change and public policy expert Ross Garnaut has observed: ‘The links between climate change and trade policy are receiving increasing attention.’1 Pascal Lamy, the Director-General of the WTO, has made a number of speeches on the intersections between trade, climate change, and intellectual property (albeit the last topic only in passing).2 On 9 December 2007, at the Informal Trade Ministers’ Dialogue on climate change in Bali, Lamy observed that international trade rules, including those relating to intellectual property, could be deployed to deal with environmental protection and climate change: The WTO tool-box of rules can certainly be leveraged in the fight against climate change, and ‘adapted’ if governments perceive this to be necessary to better achieve their goals. The WTO has rules on product standards for instance, that encourage its members to use the international norms set by more specialized international institutions. The WTO has rules on subsidies, taxes, intellectual property, and so on. All of these tools can prove valuable in the fight against climate change, but in that fight, would need to be mobilized under clearer environmental parameters that only the environmental community can set.3 1 Garnaut, Ross (2008), The...
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