Climate Change and Human Rights: Intellectual Property Challenges and Opportunities

36 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2015

See all articles by Alexandra Phelan

Alexandra Phelan

Center for Global Health Science & Security; Georgetown University, Law Center

Date Written: September 22, 2015


Mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change will require innovation and the development of new technologies. Intellectual property laws have a key part to play in the global transfer of climate technologies. However, failures to properly utilize flexibilities in intellectual property regimes or comply with technology transfer obligations under international climate change agreements calls for a human rights based analysis of climate technology transfer. Climate change is an unprecedented challenge and requires unprecedented strategies. Given the substantial impact of climate change on all of humanity and the ethical imperative to act, a complete rethink of traditional intellectual property approaches is warranted. This report proposes a series of intellectual property law policy options, through a human rights framework, aimed at promoting access to technologies to reduce the human suffering caused by climate change.

Keywords: Intellectual Property, Climate Change, Human Rights, International Law, Technology Transfer

Suggested Citation

Phelan, Alexandra, Climate Change and Human Rights: Intellectual Property Challenges and Opportunities (September 22, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Alexandra Phelan (Contact Author)

Center for Global Health Science & Security

3900 Reservoir Road, N.W.
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Georgetown University, Law Center ( email )

Washington, DC
United States

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