Enabling Environments or Enabling Discord: Intellectual Property Rights, Public-Private Partnerships, and the Quest for Green Technology Transfer

Georgetown Journal of International Law, Vol. 42 Issue 3 pp.817

September 2011

By Van Smith

The transfer of technologies to promote efficiency and lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions in economies around the world will be a crucial component of any lasting solution to the global climate change problem. This paper examines two conceptual models for solving the resultant technology transfer challenge. The first emphasizes modifications of intellectual property rights (“IPR”) protections to encourage more efficient technology transfer via private sector innovation. The second relies upon public-private partnerships (“PPPs”) to precipitate private sector research, development, and deployment of beneficial technologies.
     The paper concludes that PPPs constitute a more potent technology transfer strategy given current economic and political constraints. First, PPPs can be more rapidly implemented on a broad scale than can IPR solutions. Second, PPPs more comprehensively address non-IPR barriers to technology transfer. Third, PPPs have the potential to aid ongoing multilateral negotiations aimed at producing a comprehensive global climate regime, while IPR solutions are likely to hinder such efforts.

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