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Green Climate Fund as a Patent Pool for Climate Change technologies

One of the means to address climate change under the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCC”) and related legislation including the Paris Agreement is to stimulate the access to Climate Change Technologies (“CCT”) by developing countries through notably two mechanisms: the Technology Transfer Mechanism (“TTM”) and the Financial Mechanism (“FM”).

These mechanisms heavily rely on the assumed ability of the private sector to innovate in CCT and its willingness to disseminate their inventions to developing countries. This emphasis is based on developed nations’ ownership of most CCT and starting in 2004, developing nations’ GHG emissions from energy use surpassed those of developed nations. In spite of TTM and FM already in place, the international transfer of CCT to developing nations has been limited. The gap between the rapid growth of CCT patents owned by developed countries and the number of licenses for CCT granted to developing countries keeps increasing. Surveys conducted in the past two decades reveal that foreign CCT are not reaching developing nations adequately, especially the LDCs which are increasingly in need of CCT due to rising energy consumption and the corresponding environmental impact.

The Green Climate Fund ("GCF") to mobilize USD 100 billion per year by 2020 is a major financial mechanism established by the UNFCCC to assist developing countries in coping with climate change. A key function of the TTM is to not only identify and facilitate the adoption of existing CCT but also aid the adaptation and deployment of new technologies to meet local needs and circumstances. The GCF is likely to become one of the most important funding sources for climate-change biotech projects targeted at the developing world.

One question is whether the GCF could invest in, acquire, and own CCT inventions and patents for their diffusion to developing countries? The GCF has legal personality and capacity and should be able to own technologies and license them. The crafting of a new trajectory to capture and disseminate CCT by using the GCF would ensure developing countries gain easier and faster access to CCT. This would also mean that owners of CCT could assign, donate or license their innovations and patents to the GCF which may then manage a patent pool.