IP Protection No Barrier To Green Technology Transfer, Says Key Negotiator 05/10/2009 by Sinfah Tunsarawuth for Intellectual Property Watch 3 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)BANGKOK – Protection of intellectual property should not be a barrier in transferring technology needed by developing countries in helping them cope with the effects of climate change as most of the technology is currently publicly available, a key negotiator of the issue has said. “Not all technology is patented. Not all climate-friendly technology is protected by IP,” said Kunihiko Shimada, a co-chair of a subgroup working on agreement text on the issue of development and transfer of technology in the current two-week talks on climate change in Bangkok. The text will be part of a broader agreement expected to be concluded under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen on 7-18 December. While developing countries are concerned about access to technology needed for their adaptation and mitigation to climate change effects, developed nations want to protect their technology in creating incentives for the private sector to do further research and development, said Shimada, who is the principal international policy coordinator of Global Environment Bureau of Japan’s Environment Ministry, in an interview with Intellectual Property Watch on 2 October 2009. He said most of the climate-change technology needed by developing countries has been around for 20-30 years and most of the patents have already expired, such as energy-efficiency technology. However, this technology is still applicable to these countries in helping them mitigate the possible impacts of climate change or helping cut emissions of greenhouse gases. “IP is not a barrier,” Shimada said. However, he admitted that countries still saw intellectual property rights as a key issue needed for further negotiation as his group would continue to work on the negotiating text this week. The 28 September – 9 October meeting in Bangkok, attended by more than 4,000 delegates from 177 countries, is part of a series of major negotiating sessions under the UNFCCC leading up to the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December, the deadline that has been set for reaching a global climate change agreement after two years of negotiations. Shimada said other key issues needed to work on included the source of fund to help developing countries acquire and apply certain technology and whether a new global institution was needed to facilitate the technology transfer. He said, however, members in his group were not discussing about the amount of fund need for the purpose. However, the World Bank said in a preliminary report released on 30 September that the cost between 2010 and 2050 in developing countries of adapting to an approximately 2 degrees Celsius warmer world by 2050 is in the range of US$75 billion to US$100 billion a year. “This sum is of the same order of magnitude as the foreign aid that developed countries now give developing countries each year,” it said in the executive summary of the Global Report of the Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change Study. In the negotiating text of Shimada’s group as of 2 October, some member countries proposed that financial support should be provided to pay for the full or partial cost of certain technology for developing countries. But Shimada said the proposal might not be very realistic because of the significant cost of such a purchase. He said developing countries should try to make use of technology that is not patented or whose patent has already expired, and that they could manage. He also said most technology transfer is already carried out through commercial activities by the private sector and the role of governments in such a transfer could be limited. In the same negotiating text, member countries also proposed the “use of the full flexibilities” in the World Trade Organization Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, including compulsory licensing, which some developing countries have applied to override patent-holders of life-saving drugs. Shimada said the most important achievement in the first week of talks in Bangkok of his group was the consolidation of the negotiating text from 40 pages to 19 pages, comprising 10 pages of main agreement and nine pages of annex. He said: “The original document we carried to the Bangkok meeting was impossible to read. Now you can read this.” Also on 2 October, Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC executive secretary, told a press conference that he has been encouraged by the overall discussions in Bangkok. He said: “I’ve seen signs here in Bangkok that these talks can deliver the tools and the rules that are going to be essential to make the Copenhagen agreement successful.” De Boer said developing countries now seem to have become more practical in deciding what would be needed in their climate-change adaptation programmes. However, he said major industrialised nations have yet come up with higher target of their emissions cut for greenhouse gases, which is needed to help the world avoid becoming warmer. 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