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World IP Day 2020: Innovation for a Green Future

By Ari Rollason, Associate

Making modern day living environmentally sustainable is one of the biggest talking points of the 21st century. Across the globe, world leaders and governments are increasingly recognising the importance of reducing greenhouse emissions and reducing the rate at which we consume natural resources. In 2016, the Paris Agreement was drafted in order to facilitate increased international co-operation to minimise global warming. The agreement involves all parties reporting regularly on their emissions and supporting developing countries to build clean, climate-resilient futures, and has so far been ratified by 189 countries. Similarly, the European Union has established the European Climate Change Program (ECCP) to help identify the most environmentally and cost-effective policies and measures that can be taken at European level to cut greenhouse gas emissions, such as the European Green Deal. Closer to home, the UK’s levels of greenhouse emissions in 2018 were 44% less than the levels of emissions in 1990, and last year saw the UK government pass laws to require net zero emissions by 2050.

Alongside legislation, technological developments and innovation is playing an ever growing part in the fight against climate change. For example, the 2018 Global Innovation Index published by the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) details that global energy demand is set to rise by 30% by 2040, and 85% of the world’s primary energy will need to come from renewables in 2050 in order to reach global zero net emissions targets. Achieving these goals without fostering innovation in the green energy sector will be a near impossible task; by ensuring that IP systems across the globe help to support inventors and foster innovation, the world is one step closer to a sustainable future.

This year’s World IP Day (April 26) celebrated the importance and impact of green innovation and sustainable technology. As part of this, WIPO launched a World IP Pledge Map to show actions taken by organizations, companies and individuals aimed at building a green future and published an article setting out the importance of each type of IP in fostering innovation in the green sector. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry also released a statement on the importance of innovation in green tech, saying:

“Only by fostering innovation, and supporting the development of robust IP systems that incentivize and support it, will we be able to develop the clean energy systems required to meet that demand, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fostering economic growth.”

At Haseltine Lake Kempner, we have been taking a look at recent developments in green technology with our article series, “The Green Series”, which looks at recently published patents and applications for various green technologies. Patent-protected technologies are already supporting the transition to a green future, for example in generating renewable energy and improving waste management, and we hope that these inventions will someday do their part!