The Debate Around Patents and Access to Environmentally Sound Technologies: A New Opportunity to Break Impasse and Isolation in Climate Mitigation and Adaption

Qiong DU


Challenges to the patent role in access to environmentally sound technologies (hereinafter referred as ESTs) are highlighted in the context of climate change. The international efforts on the diffusion of ESTs are intensified through two possible pathways, one of which lays a legal ground for the necessity and urgency of access to ESTs and the other guarantees the innovation and dissemination of ESTs. However, the potential conflicts between the two pathways jeopardize the existing progresses made in climate mitigation and adaptation. Through comparative analysis of the strategies relatively taken by developed and developing countries, it is found in this article that the international patent system exerts actual influence over the potential access to ESTs. The distinct segmentation and isolation of positions of divergent stakeholders lead to constant controversy with no satisfactory result in climate negotiations. Finally a new proposal is put forward so as to break the deadlock.


ESTs; Patent; TRIPS; UNFCCC; Technology transfer

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