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Does TRIPS Facilitate or Impede Climate Change Technology Transfer into Developing Countries?

22 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2007 Last revised: 8 Mar 2014

Cameron J. Hutchison

University of Alberta - Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 18, 2012


The development and widespread dissemination of climate change technologies is a key component in the battle to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. As with many other multilateral environmental agreements, the climate change regime addresses the challenge of technology transfer by promoting two complementary approaches: active transfer by developed country governments (so called 'push factors') and creating favorable conditions in developing countries to attract technology through trade and investment (so called 'pull factors'). Legal obligations within the climate regime are broadly conceived, leaving much discretion as to how countries animate these push and pull factors through their national legislation. The WTO TRIPS Agreement is concerned, almost exclusively, with pull factors, i.e. creating an enabling environment for trade and investment by patent rights holders. This paper will (1) offer a brief overview of the international legal regime for technology transfer under the climate change and TRIPS regimes according to push and pull factors (2) discuss in general terms whether TRIPS facilitates or impedes the pull of technology transfer through private capital trade and investment and (3) focus on the important push issue of whether TRIPS allows compulsory licensing in cases where a patent holder refuses to license in an export market.

Keywords: climate change, TRIPS, technology transfer, international trade, international environmental law

Suggested Citation

Hutchison, Cameron J., Does TRIPS Facilitate or Impede Climate Change Technology Transfer into Developing Countries? (October 18, 2012). University of Ottawa Law & Technology Journal, Vol. 3, pp. 517-537, 2006. Available at SSRN:

Cameron J. Hutchison (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Faculty of Law ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H5

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