One of the major issues that is key to thinking about IP, technology and climate change is that there is a geographic structure to the technology need. The majority of developing countries are where the need for existing technologies for energy access and thus low emissions technologies is most evident, and in terms of adaptation where the most severe impacts of technology are held. This means that the flows and access to technology reflects the broader imbalance of technology access in the development framework. However, the emerging economies, especially India and China have an important and special role to play in the generation and dissemination of climate technologies.
The past two decades have seen increasing growth in the role that middle income countries, especially upper middle income countries such as Brazil, India, and China play in international technology flows. Data from 2001 shows that upper middle income countries presented the highest growth arena for high technology exports from the OECD.
Emerging economies are increasingly major players in renewable energy technology investments with Brazil, India and China comprising over 90% of the 72 billion invested in developing countries (just a shade more than that invested in the OECD. See UNEP, Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, 2011).
The picture of the role of the emerging economies in the new climate technology structure is fundamental to assessing how intellectual property may be a barrier to technology transfer. If these countries are to engage in large scale replication and distribution of the relevant technologies to other developing countries, then we have to be concerned about anything that places a restriction on their ability to:
- Function as research and development and production centers for climate technologies
- Function as export and distribution centers for climate technologies
In the next couple of posts I look at the role of China and India as research and development centers