UN Climate Change Report Assesses Options For Technology And IP Policy 25/04/2014 by Julia Fraser for Intellectual Property Watch 7 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The latest United Nations report on climate change offers advice for international and national intellectual property policies relating to climate change mitigation technology. Although strong IP rights may foster green technology development and transfer in developed countries, there is a lack of evidence to support IP strengthening in developing countries, it concludes. The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) member governments accepted the third and final Working Group Report on “Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change” last week on 12 April. The IPCC was created by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988. Global leading experts were selected for Working Group 3 to review worldwide “scientific, technical and socio-economic” evidence to assess “options for mitigating climate change and their underlying technological, economic and institutional requirements.” The final draft is available here. The report concludes “it would be possible, using a wide array of technological measures and changes in behaviour, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, only major institutional and technological change will give a better than even chance that global warming will not exceed this threshold,” according to the press release. It provides recommendations and assesses possible options for international and national policy. Policy changes will be important for lowering costs of environmentally friendly technologies, essential to ensure worldwide participation in efforts to reduce climate change, and for facilitating access to and the transfer of technology. The report calls for international agreements on “knowledge sharing, coordinated or joint research and development of climate-change-mitigating technologies, technology transfer, and technology deployment policies.” “Trade barriers and obligations regarding intellectual property (IP) rights of ‘green technology’ as well as many other WTO obligations impinge on climate policy,” it says. Transfer of Technology Chapter 13 on international cooperation addresses the impact of IPRs on the international transfer of climate change mitigation technology. It looks at the role of IP protection to foster innovation and to promote diffusion of new technologies. On the one hand, IP protection can provide incentives for innovation, increasing supply and thus reducing costs of new technologies. However, it says, “protection of IP also works to slow the diffusion of new technologies, because it raises their cost and potentially limits their availability.” The report finds evidence for strengthening IP rights in middle-income countries to facilitate technology transfer through exports, foreign investment and licensing. IP protection can provide the necessary assurance to foreign firms that transfer of their technology to middle income countries will not lead to “imitation and resulting profit erosion,” it says. Studies also showed that royalty payments tend to increase after IP strengthening, leading to greater licencing of technology. However, the report concludes that it is “unclear whether or not these effects extend to the least developed countries whose absorptive capacity and ability to appropriate foreign technology in the absence of strong IP protections is less.” Other legal and institutional aspects aside from IPRs may also affect the risk of investment. The report also suggests compulsory licencing to encourage short-run technology transfer, although it adds, “current international law may limit the circumstances under which compulsory licensing can be used to achieve climate change mitigation objectives.” Green Technology Innovation Chapter 15 on national and sub-national policies and institutions addresses the impact of IP rights on the creation of new technologies. “Public policy towards IP inherently involves a trade-off between the desire to create incentives for knowledge creators and developers, and the desire to have new knowledge used as widely as possible once it is created,” it says. The report declares there is limited evidence on the impact of IPRs on development of green technology. IP protection has induced innovation in some areas such as wind technology, but concludes that evidence of increased innovation remains limited to developed economics. It also adds that IP protection is “unlikely to be relevant to indigenous technology development in the poorest countries.” A major issue, it says, will be “the extent to which developing countries will be compelled within the TRIPS framework to enforce strong IP protection”, or whether exceptions will be permissible on grounds of public policy. TRIPS is the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. Another issue is that “problems could arise if new, very broad patents were granted that impede the development of future, more efficient technologies.” The report is one of three working group reports, which will be summarised into a synthesis report for policymakers by 31 October this year. The Working Group II report was released earlier this month, which assessed the “impacts, adaptation and vulnerability” of climate change (IPW, Environment, 1 April 2014). Links to all three working group reports can be found on the IPCC website. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Julia Fraser may be reached at email@example.com."UN Climate Change Report Assesses Options For Technology And IP Policy" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.