Technology Transfer for Climate Change

Can we negotiate IP in the Paris 2015 Climate Negotiations?
December 1, 2015, 15:59
Filed under: TRIPS, UNFCCC, WTO

The UNFCCC and its relationship to the WTO is a special case of the broader relationship between trade and the environment. Generally, this has been addressed from the viewpoint of the trading system and the extent to which the trading system needs to adjust to accommodate environmental needs.  In the climate negotiations, a lot of emphasis has been placed on the UNFCCC and any agreement not interfering with trade issues, or not addressing trade rules.  This has been extended to the issue of intellectual property, a relative latecomer to the range of trade rules.  Thus, the argument goes, intellectual property is a trade issue which the UNFCCC and subsequent protocols should not address, as they properly should be addressed in trade venues. I don’t intend to reiterate the arguments counter to this proposition. (For that see Chapter 7 of my book[1].) I just want to address the specific issue of whether there are rules in the UNFCCC itself that prevent countries from addressing IP in the UNFCCC or in the pursuit of implementing their obligations under the UNFCCC.

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