Open for Climate Justice: Intellectual Property, Human Rights, and Climate Change

22 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2022 Last revised: 17 Nov 2022

See all articles by Matthew Rimmer

Matthew Rimmer

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Date Written: October 18, 2022


This commentary highlights the history of conflict and division over intellectual property, technology transfer, and clean technologies during international climate negotiations. It considers the scope for open licensing to make environmental knowledge, data, technology, and intellectual property more widely accessible and available in order to better address climate adaptation and mitigation, as well as loss and damage. There has been a renewed interest in open access models for climate research, knowledge, and data. Creative Commons, SPARC and EIFL have launched a 4 year Open Climate Campaign, with funding from the Arcadia Foundation. The theme for the Open Access Week 2022 is Open for Climate Justice. Patent pledges have become increasingly popular as a means of sharing technologies. The Low Carbon Patent Pledge was launched in 2021 by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft, and Facebook. The Pledge is designed to help disseminate clean technologies, subject to intellectual property rights. Meanwhile, the Government of Canada has experimented with patent collectives in the field of clean technologies. Open government policies have increasingly focused upon climate data, knowledge, and technologies. The Biden administration has been seeking to promote open innovation in the United States. At an international level, there has been discussion about the relationship between open science and human rights. The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science provides a framework for the further development of policies in this field. While such new open source projects have promise, there is a need to scale up initiatives on open access, open data, open science, and open innovation to better address the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and sustainable development.

This piece was written as a policy brief for open access week in 2022.

Keywords: intellectual property, human rights, climate justice, commons, patent law, patent pledges, patent infringement, open government, open science, open access, open data, open source, international climate talks

JEL Classification: K11, K32

Suggested Citation

Rimmer, Matthew, Open for Climate Justice: Intellectual Property, Human Rights, and Climate Change (October 18, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Matthew Rimmer (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, Queensland QLD 4000

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