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UNCTAD Report Calls for Proactive Policies, Including Subsidies and Public Acquisition of Patents for Climate Change Mitigation

© UNCTAD7 September 2009: The Trade and Development Report 2009, by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), addresses both how to respond to the global economic crisis and the role of climate change mitigation in development.

The report suggests that innovation in support of climate change mitigation is not fundamentally different from other innovation activities, but since climate change mitigation is increasingly recognized as a public good, innovation also calls for direct government intervention.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi remarks in the Overview to the report that “proactive policies are therefore needed, including subsidies and public acquisition of patents, to advance technological progress and accelerate the process of catching up from past underinvestment.” UNCTAD economists contend that climate change mitigation must be seen as a process of structural change. They compare this process to that of mechanization, motorization, digitalization and other processes of structural change in the past. The UNCTAD report also points to experiences from both developed and developing countries showing that many synergies are possible between GHG emission reductions and development objectives, and highlights that much of the technology needed for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions exists already, but needs to be applied more widely. [UNCTAD press release]