24 November 2022
The 27th United Nations Climate Change Convention (COP27) concluded on the 20th of November 2022, two days after the scheduled end of the conference. A total of 14 days of discussions were held in Sharm el-Sheikh, with the climate change issues tackled ranging from a review of current targets for net zero carbon emissions to agreement for a global fund to tackle ‘loss and damage’ incurred as a result of the climate crisis.
The participants consisted of representatives from over 190 countries with backgrounds in politics, activism, and enterprise, to name a few. Following the conference’s conclusion, the ‘Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan’ was released, which provides an overview of the key outcomes from the conference and lays out a climate action plan for the years to come. The decisions made within the plan will have implications for many industries by driving technology trends and corresponding changes in the intellectual property (IP) landscape.
The primary takeaway from COP27 was the ‘breakthrough’ agreement regarding the ‘loss and damage’ fund for vulnerable countries. ‘Loss and damage’ refers to the costs that are being incurred by communities, largely in developing countries, due to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels from which they lack the resources to recover. These countries are taking the brunt of the climate change damage, while contributing to it the least.
By 2030, developed nations could be forced to pay anywhere between US$160 and US$340 billion yearly to help developing nations adapt to climate change by funding disaster relief, constructing sea walls or breeding crops that can better withstand drought. All of these adaptation methods will require fast paced innovation to help keep up with the implications of climate change. We might therefore expect to see an increase in inventions and patent applications relating to climate adaptation technologies in the years to come.
Energy was again a key focal point of the COP implementation plan. Commitments were reiterated regarding the urgent need for parties to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions immediately, deeply, and sustainably across all applicable sectors. This includes increasing the use of low emission and renewable energy, energy transition partnerships, and other cooperative initiatives aimed at reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
An enhanced commitment was made underlining the urgency to accelerate the transition to clean renewable energy between now and 2030 and to make energy systems more secure, dependable, and resilient. This, accompanied by a commitment to a transitional clean energy mix, point towards further growth in the cleantech sector, which is likely to be accompanied by an increase in the protection of resultant inventions and other IP.
A new technology executive committee has been established alongside other commitments, in order to more efficiently deploy climate mitigating and adapting technology worldwide. The function of the committee is to support joint work programme activities, including technology needs assessments, action plans and roadmaps for nations worldwide. The plan also highlights the importance of cooperation on technology transfer when it comes to implementing new technologies. Firms and countries are encouraged to engage in cooperative activities in order to spread key innovations worldwide, particularly to those countries requiring most adaptation to climate change. The IP implications from this will likely be seen in an increase in collaborative invention efforts, leading to more joint technology developments and joint patent applications.
At COP27, a new mitigation work programme was launched, aimed at urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and implementation, with governments being asked to revisit and strengthen current targets in their national climate plans by the end of 2023 and accelerate efforts to phase down coal power and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
The work programme will start immediately and continue until 2030, with at least two global dialogues held each year. This work programme should drive new policies and technologies that will hasten the transition to low emission energy systems, including accelerating the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, and we therefore expect to see an increase in innovation in this area.
As COP27 draws to a close and we look ahead to the future, it is clear to see the technology trends that might emerge from the decisions that have been taken, and the impact these trends will have on the IP landscape. Cleantech and emission mitigation technologies will likely see a growth, accompanied by a corresponding increase in the protection of inventions and other IP arising from innovations in this area. As countries adapt to climate change, expect to see more and more innovations aimed at reducing the impact of climate disasters, with a particular focus in countries most affected by it. The increase in financial support for innovation will only encourage further growth and innovation across these sectors and a corresponding increase in the protection of associated IP rights.
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