Intellectual Property and Global Warming: Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice
Matthew David and Debora Halbert (ed.), The Sage Handbook of Intellectual Property, London: Sage Publications, 2014, 727-753.
Posted: 15 Apr 2015
Date Written: December 1, 2014
Engaging in a close analysis of legal and political discourse, this chapter considers conflicts over intellectual property and climate change in three key arenas: climate law; trade law; and intellectual property law. In this chapter, it is argued that there is a need to overcome the political stalemates and deadlocks over intellectual property and climate change. It is essential that intellectual property law engage in a substantive fashion with the matrix of issues surrounding fossil fuels, clean technologies, and climate change at an international level. First, this chapter examines the debate over intellectual property and climate change under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992, and the establishment of the UNFCCC Climate Technology Centre and Network. It recommends that the technology mechanism should address and deal with matters of intellectual property management and policy. Second, the piece examines the discussion of global issues in the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO GREEN. It supports the proposal for a Global Green Patent Highway to allow for the fast-tracking of intellectual property applications in respect of green technologies. Third, the chapter investigates the dispute in the TRIPS Council at the World Trade Organization over intellectual property, climate change, and development. This section focuses upon the TRIPS Agreement 1994. This chapter calls for a Joint Declaration on Intellectual Property and Climate Change from the UNFCCC, WIPO, and the WTO.
The paper concludes that intellectual property should be reformed as part of a larger effort to promote climate justice. Rather than adopt a fragmented, piecemeal approach in various international institutions, there is a need for a co-ordinated and cohesive response to intellectual property in an age of runaway, global climate change. Patent law should be fossil fuel free. Intellectual property should encourage research, development, and diffusion of renewable energy and clean technologies. It is submitted that intellectual property law reform should promote climate justice in line with Mary Robinson’s Declaration on Climate Justice 2013.
Keywords: Intellectual Property, Climate Change, Global Warming, UNFCCC, WTO, WIPO, Patent Law, Renewable Energy, Clean Technologies.
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