I am pleased to see that technology is being put centre stage at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.  As stated by Sir Patrick Vallance, the U.K. government's chief scientific advisor, if we are to hit our climate change targets it is critical that technologies are developed, scaled and made available around the globe.

Patents and other forms of IP are often viewed as being tools to stifle technological development and proliferation, however that need not be the case.  Patents can act to increase innovation.  It is well established that the promise of the limited monopoly provided by patents can incentivise research projects that would otherwise not be attractive; however once in place, intelligent use of IP rights can work to stimulate innovation further.  The existence of patents can provide security for potential collaborators and a framework on which to build.  Collaborations are often more attractive to third parties if it is understood that the base technology is patented - thus providing a level of security and confidence for potential partners.  Similarly, licensing arrangements with third parties overseas can help bring technology to markets that it otherwise would not reach.

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding how best to deal with the climate crisis.  One thing that does seem certain, however, is that technology, supported by patents and other IP rights, will play a key role.

Patrick Vallance, the U.K. government's chief scientific advisor, said that science and technology have the biggest role to play in tackling, tracking and measuring climate change, as well as assessing measures being put in place to reduce carbon emissions.


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