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UNEP Releases Patent-Based Study on Clean Energy Technologies

30 September 2010: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in partnership with European Patent Office and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), has released a report titled "Patents and clean energy: bridging the gap between evidence and policy."

The study examines the effect of patents on the worldwide transfer of clean energy technologies (CETs), including solar photovoltaic, geothermal, wind, and carbon capture. The study analyses 400,000 patent documents identified from a pool of 60 million patents as its basis.

Key findings from the study include: that Japan, the US, Germany, the Republic of Korea, France and the UK are the source of almost 80% of all CET innovations developed; a correlation between increased patenting activity and the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol; and limited licensing activity in entities located in developing countries, and confined mainly to China, India and Brazil.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, underlined that patents are not "a drag on economies and innovation." He added that international efforts to combat climate change have "sparked technological creativity on low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy solutions." Steiner identified the diffusion, spread and transfer of these advances as a key challenge. [UNEP Press Release] [Patents Study]