The transfer of climate change mitigation and adaptation technologies to developing countries has been a permanent item on the agenda at all UNFCCC Conferences of the Parties (COP) meetings since the UNFCCC entered into force in 1994.
As negotiations on means to enhance technology transfer in the UNFCCC context have increased in importance, so has the question of the role that IP can and should play. Polarised views have emerged on the issue, particularly since the UNFCCC meeting in Bali in 2007.
On the one hand, many developing countries and some nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have advocated the use and expansion of the flexibilities on IP available within the WTO TRIPS Agreement, such as compulsory licensing, arguing that this will help ensure greater access to climate change technologies. Arguments from the global debate on IP and public health are often referenced in their statements.
In contrast, many developed countries and business associations claim that only strengthened IP regimes will encourage the necessary innovation, transfer and diffusion of such technologies. This chasm in views is reflected in the heavily bracketed UNFCCC draft negotiation text on technology development and transfer, which emerged from the UNFCCC COP meeting in Copenhagen in 2009.