Reversing the human impact on climate change will require deploying the right technologies, and adapting existing ones to current climatic realities by putting in place appropriate policies. This paper analyses the potential of intellectual property systems for stimulating green technologies, towards improving climate change adaptation capacities in developing countries. It explores the role IPRs could play as a major contributor to the development and diffusion of environmentally-sound technologies, and provides recommendations beyond merely using IP systems to tackle climate change.
International views on climate change are considerably divided on what are the responsibilities of developed and developing countries with regard to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the mitigation of the negative effects of global warming. Evidently, the major part of disagreement in the international diplomatic negotiations relates to the role and impact of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), more specifically patents, in the development and dissemination of environmentally-sound technologies (EST) and mitigation of global warming negative impacts.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) have been identified as the major cause for incentivising green innovations and a vital prerequisite for the development and transfer of environmentally sound technologies by developed countries, while developing countries consider IPRs and abusive manner of IP rights holders based in developed countries, as a major barrier to effective access to green technologies to the countries in need.
Though, one point is quite clear: climate change has essentially been caused by human made technologies: the significant development and dissemination of technologies that catalysed the industrial revolution, the technologies that cleared much of the world’s forests; the new industrial chemicals that were released into the atmosphere, all protected under intellectual property system, unaware of the fact that they would intensify the greenhouse effect on planet.
It follows that reversing the human impact on the atmosphere and climate change mitigation boils down to deploying the right technologies andadapting to the inevitability of a transformed climate will also need development of new technologies through different mechanisms, adopting existing ones to current climate change concerns and putting in place appropriate policies for efficient exploitation of green technologies in both developed and developing worlds.
To provide a focus for our discussion, we will observe the positive impact of intellectual property system as a whole together with other corresponding alternatives for stimulating environmentally sound technologies (green technologies) to enhance climate change adaptation capacity in developing countries and will analyse the role IPR could play as the very major contributor to development and diffusion of green technologies.
In the end, the paper concludes with some additional recommendations supplementary to mere use of IP system to tackle climate change consequences and threats to developing world.