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Who owns green technology? The Paris Agreement: intellectual property, greenwashing, & climate change - QUT workshop

17th February 2016

QUT will host tomorrow a workshop on the Paris Agreement which featured a ferocious debate over intellectual property and climate change between nation states, industry, and civil society.

Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Professor Matthew Rimmer from QUT’s Faculty of Law, will speak at the QUT workshop on a rights-based approach to Climate Change tomorrow and Friday, 18 and 19 February.

He will discuss the debate over intellectual property and climate change in the negotiations over the Paris Agreement at COP21 in December.

“The final Paris Agreement is coy about the topic of intellectual property and climate change. However, it does contain text on technology development and transfer, as well as a new understanding on climate finance,” Professor Rimmer said.

“President Obama and the United States called for strong intellectual property rights protection in respect of clean technologies, in line with the US stance on trade partnerships,” Professor Rimmer said.

“The US Chamber of Commerce and other industry associations were concerned about the inclusion of intellectual property flexibilities in the Paris Agreement.

“The European Union opposed the discussion of trade measures in the international climate talks and sought to minimise discussions on issues regarding intellectual property and climate change.”

Professor Rimmer said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a key player in the debate over technology transfer.

“Mr Modi said in his plenary speech: 'We need to scale up the Green Climate Fund that will improve access to technology and IP.' “

“He highlighted that the future of the planet would be determined by the convergence between economy, ecology, and energy.

“An International Solar Energy Alliance was launched by India and France to boost solar energy in developing countries, one of several new initiatives.

“Bill Gates has offered to play a leadership role with the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to make clean energy widely available at affordable prices.

“Green vehicle manufacturers have been experimenting with models of open innovation and open licensing with some leading car companies, including Tesla Motors, Toyota, and Ford, showing interest in co-operative approaches to intellectual property.”

Professor Rimmer said the Paris talks were a marketplace of ideas from all sectors.

“Civil society organisations were concerned about the problems of greenwashing, astroturfing, and climate denial at the Paris Climate Talks.

“At the Climate Games, billed the world’s largest Disobedient Action Adventure Game, there was culture-jamming of trademarks and brands of companies accused of doing too little to address the climate crisis.

“Red-Lines protesters highlighted concerns about climate justice as the Paris climate talks were being concluded.

“The final Paris Agreement does not take ultimately a right-based approach to climate change. Issues such as climate justice, human rights, and Indigenous rights were relegated to the preamble of the Paris Agreement.”

“The Paris Agreement seeks to strengthen the role of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Climate Technology Centre and Network.”

Media contact: Niki Widdowson, 07 3138 2999 or

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