Corporatization of the climate? Innovation, intellectual property rights

Thursday, 25 May 2017 Read 306 times Written by 

Corporatization of the climate? Innovation, intellectual property rights, and patents for climate change mitigation

K. Raiser , H. Naims, T. Bruhn

Institute for Advanced Sustainability Study, Berliner Str. 130, 14467 Potsdam, DE, Germany



Patents constitute an important economic mechanism incentivising the development of technologies. Given the immediacy of the need for global access to effective emission cutting technologies, the role of patents requires further consideration in the general climate change mitigation discourse. This paper aims to address this issue, presenting arguments on the role of the patent system from general intellec- tual property literature, as well as insights from specialized technological fields. The authors find that although patents provide a strong economic incentive for innovation, they limit the further commercial- ization of mitigation technologies based on previously patented materials and thus hinder global access to mitigation solutions. Development of mitigation technologies, specifically of renewable energies and carbon capture storage, requires predominantly an improvement of existing technologies. Therefore, patents are seen to restrict development and are perceived as an obstacle to climate change mitigation. In order to achieve the targets set by COP21, the transfer of patented technologies is a necessity. However, patents are found to act as one factor that can severely restrict the dissemination of technologies glob- ally. Given these findings, the merits of open-source/copy-left systems of intellectual property deserve further study, especially with regard to their applicability to climate change mitigation solutions.

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Corresponding author.

E-mail address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (K. Raiser).

1 Technology Transfer in this context refers to the international transfer of technology rather than the diffusion of technologies within national contexts. Nonetheless the latter is also deemed to be an important aspect of further research.

2214-6296/© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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