IP References Left Out Of Last-Minute, Weak Global Climate Deal In Copenhagen

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COPENHAGEN – Despite last-minute pep talk by US President Barack Obama, it proved extremely difficult to secure an international climate deal at the high-level meeting in Copenhagen on 18 December. Intellectual property issues were again discussed in a smaller group during one of the last days, but are not mentioned in the final text, which is entitled the “Copenhagen Accord.”

The question is whether the work done and paper developed on technology [pdf], which included IP language (albeit in brackets) when the contact group last discussed it on 17 December, will be forwarded to the next COP meeting (IPW, Environment, 16 December).

This was unclear at press time as most officials had left the meeting after two intense weeks, a last day of 14 hours of negotiations among 26 world leaders and then one night of plenary, in which a handful of Latin American countries took issue with the deal, according to media sources.

The final Copenhagen Accord [pdf] was announced today, 19 December, a day after the 7-18 December meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) was supposed to have ended.

The Accord, which states that the parties recognise the scientific view that the “increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius,” has been described as both empty and weak. It is operational immediately, but not legally binding. Work is therefore expected to continue on the Accord.


There is no specific reference to intellectual property in the Accord, but the issue of technology is mentioned a number of times, especially in Article 11:

“In order to enhance action on development and transfer of technology we decide to establish a Technology Mechanism to accelerate technology development and transfer in support of action on adaptation and mitigation that will be guided by a country-driven approach and be based on national circumstances and priorities.”

The establishment of a “Technology Mechanism” refers directly back to the draft text on development and technology that has been discussed in a contact group at the meeting, although many developing countries would have liked to have seen specific references to IP under the tasks of such a mechanism.

Technology is also mentioned in the following articles of the Accord:

Article 3: “We agree that developed countries shall provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity-building to support the implementation of adaptation action in developing countries.”

Article 5: “Nationally appropriate mitigation actions seeking international support will be recorded in a registry along with relevant technology, finance and capacity building support.”

Article 8: “Scaled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding as well as improved access shall be provided to developing countries, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, to enable and support enhanced action on mitigation, including substantial finance to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD-plus), adaptation, technology development and transfer and capacity-building, for enhanced implementation of the Convention.”

The Copenhagen Green Climate Fund is to be set up under the Framework Convention on Climate Change and it will among other issues support “technology transfer development and transfer,” according to Article 10. Developed countries “commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries,” according to the Accord.

IP Role Debated

Although the IP language did not make it to the Accord, it has been subject to intense talks during the meeting in the contact group, which produced three draft texts. Bolivia was the main driver for keeping this language in the draft text, sources said, while the United States and the European Union in particular held that IP should not be part of this particular draft text or any climate agreement in general.

The overall talks at the meeting halted on 17 December as there was a general deadlock in negotiations. But a developed country official told Intellectual Property Watch that negotiations were divided into two ad hoc working groups, and talks in the informal groups, including that on technology, were mandated to continue.

Another official said that IP had not been discussed in detail at the 17 December informal meeting, but the issue of whether it should be included in a technology draft or not had been subject to discussion. India said that there should be some reference to IP in the draft, while Singapore emphasised that there was disagreement within the Group of 77 of developing countries on this issue, the official said.

The draft text that was discussed in the informals on 17 December was the “enhanced action on technology development and transfer.” The text was discussed as part of the UN Convention under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention (LCA). The Kyoto Protocol was discussed separately (the Accord states that the working group on the Kyoto Protocol should continue its work).

Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

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