The EPO and the UNFCCC

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Last updated: 7.11.2017

Providing evidence for the climate change debate

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 three EPO-UNEP studies with a regional focus on Africa (2013), Latin America (2014) and Europe (2015).

Development and deployment of CCMTs

In co-operation with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the EPO has produced a policy brief to provide evidence on the latest trends in climate change mitigation technologies (CCMT) innovation and dissemination with a focus on renewable energy technologies, showing that patents support deployment. The main findings are as follows:

  • The number and commercial value of CCMT inventions are growing globally
  • Most innovation takes place in the energy sector, with renewables driving the growth
  • The integration of ICTs into renewable energy technologies remains a key challenge
  • Climate policy is a main driver of innovation in CCMTs
  • Inventive activity in CCMTs is mainly concentrated in a few regions of the world but diversity of inventor countries is growing
  • Patents support the deployment of CCMTs

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The "Y02" classification scheme

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.

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