CHANGES IN THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM 37
ogy has driven and defined most of the significant changes in human history. The Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the industrial revolution and the ICT revolution were all created by advances in technology. Technology has the potential to address the climate change issues and transform how energy is produced as well. Ensuring that developing countries have access to new energy tech nologies and can participate equally in the new energy markets is a vital element to a sustainable strategy for reducing GHG emissions and a strategic priority for developing the overall economies of developing countries. Facilitating access to new technologies to developing parties has been an integral part of the UNFCCC. The Bali Action Plan reaffirmed its centrality and COP15 called for the establishment of a mechanism to accelerate technology development and transfer. The role of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in the transfer of climate change technologies has emerged as a particularly contentious issue in the past two years. UNEP, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) recently undertook a database search of patents in clean energy technologies (CETs). They found that patenting rates for CETs have increased 20 per cent per annum since 1997 and have outpaced the traditional energy sources of fossil fuels and nuclear energy (UNEP–EPO–ICTSD, 2011). Patenting in the selected CET fields is currently dominated by countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). A number of developing countries are, however, showing specialization in individual sectors, providing further competition in the field and potentially changing the future of the CET patent landscape. For example, India features within the top five countries for solar photovoltaics, Brazil and Mexico share the top two positions in hydro/marine and China is one of the most important for CETs (UNEP–EPO–ICTSD, 2011). Patent searches reveal only the supply side of technology development. Only a small percentage of patents cover processes that are commercialized, and an even smaller number become important, widespread or profitable technologies. Of more importance for developing countries is the demand side of technology, or accessing, using and developing technologies for local use. A consistent concern for many developing countries in the UNFCCC, as well as many other international discussions, is that patents and other IPRs block access to useful technologies. In a few important examples this has been the case. A more significant problem for many developing countries is the capacity to develop technologies suit able for their own circumstances and needs and to access technologies that are publically available. The emergence of Korea, China, Brazil and India as world-class leaders in various CETs has been driven not by
Published on Mar 6, 2013
Debates on green growth and environmental governance tend to be general in nature, and are often conceptual or limited to single disciplines...