Intellectual Property and Climate Change

  • Year: 2012

Official project name: Sharing technology in a low-carbon knowledge economy

Client: South African Institute of International Affairs

Funder: South African Institute of International Affairs

Duration: 2012-2013

Summary

In 2012, TIPS’s Sustainable Growth pillar worked for the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) on a research paper on intellectual property in climate negotiations, including a case study focused on concentrated solar power (CSP).

The paper shows that the technological revolution required by climate action can be achieved by existing technology, but would benefit immensely from continued innovation to lower costs. The sheer scale of investment required necessitates the wholesale participation of the private sector, motivated to innovate by intellectual property rights (IPR). The paper shows that IPR is an essential institutional tool for disseminating technology and that its benefits are greater than its costs – costs which can be further contained through competition policy.

Of the issues that plague developing nations' ability to access technology, absorptive capacity and the ability to demonstrate first-of-its-kind technologies at scale – rather than IPR costs – are prominent and can be addressed through finance solutions, possibly under a global climate regime.

The research, which was presented at an International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) / International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) side-event at COP17 climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, contributed to informing the official position of the South African government.

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