The EPO joined forces with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in 2009 to investigate the role of the patent system in climate change-related technologies and provide evidence to support an informed debate.
A first study, on “Patents and clean energy technologies” (CETs), was published in 2010. This was followed by two EPO-UNEP studies with a regional focus on Africa and Latin America, in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
The latest study analyses Europe’s position in the global race to develop new climate change mitigation technologies (CCMTs). Europe emerges as a major centre for CCMT invention activity, and the data suggests that public policies have been successful in encouraging their development.
The Office has also developed a new "Y02" classification scheme, dedicated to climate change mitigation technologies, which enables a continuous and reliable flow of data on selected technologies and their application in the energy field. Originally incorporating Y02E for energy and Y02C for capture of greenhouse gases, it was expanded in 2012 to include Y02B for climate change mitigation technology relating to buildings, Y02T relating to transport, and Y04S relating to an area known as "smart grids".
Using the features of the patent system to produce structural transparency regarding climate change mitigation technologies, the EPO is delivering a significant contribution in the fight against climate change and sending a strong signal that it is ready to assume broader responsibility in a societal context.