Climate Action Network International (CAN) concurs with the apparent consensus at the third Technology Executive Committee (TEC) meeting (held on the 28th and 29th of May in Bonn) that intellectual property rights (IPR) is an issue in the transfer of climate technologies that could be an incentive, a barrier, neither or both. Furthermore, the determination of which role it plays can only be made at the national/sectoral level on a case-by-case basis. There are cases where IPR has been and can be a barrier and some parties are concerned that it will be a barrier to the transfer of key climate technologies to help mitigate their emissions and enhance their adaptive capacities. On the other hand, technology developers are concerned with the intellectual property enforcement risk in developing economies and potential negative impacts on innovation. In the absence of some guidance on key issues related to IPR from the Technology Mechanism (TM), countries and providers would be left to deal with each IPR issue that arises from scratch, stalling and even derailing much-needed technology deployment.
But the UNFCCC can play a critical role here to ensure that countries have the tools they need to find resolution in a case where IPR issues threaten to pose a barrier to the transfer of a key climate technology while ensuring that appropriate incentives for technology innovation are maintained. By providing appropriate guidelines on the use of existing tools and a platform to facilitate various forms of information sharing on IPR solutions among other initiatives, the UNFCCC has the opportunity to proactively prevent IPR from becoming a widespread barrier while building confidence in the TM among both demanders and suppliers of climate technologies.