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Abstract

Accelerating the development of less GHG intensive technologies and promoting their global diffusion - in particular in fast-growing emerging economies - is imperative in achieving the transition to a low-carbon economy. Consequently, technology is at the core of current discussions about the post-Kyoto regime. The purpose of this study is to fuel this discussion by providing an in-depth analysis of the geographic distribution of climate mitigation inventions since 1978 and their international diffusion on a global scale. We use the EPO/OECD World Patent Statistical Database (PATSTAT) which includes patents from 81 national and international patent offices. Note that the Least Developed Countries patent a negligible number of inventions, meaning that the geographical scope of the study is limited to industrialized countries and emerging economies. In this study, patent counts are used to measure the output of innovation but also the transfer of inventions across borders on the ground that an innovator patents his/her invention in a foreign country because he/she plans to exploit it commercially there. They are the only indicator available today that provides a comprehensive view on innovation and technology diffusion on a global scale. Patent data also present drawbacks. First, patents are not the only tool available to inventors to protect their inventions. Second, successful technology transfers also involve the transfer of know-how. Still one can reasonably assume that patent counts are positively correlated to the quantity of non-patented innovations and transfers. We consider 13 different classes of technologies with significant global GHG emission abatement potentials, and analyze inventive activities and international technology transfer between 1978 and 2003. The technologies considered are seven renewable energy technologies (wind, solar, geothermal, ocean energy, biomass, waste-to-energy, and hydropower), methane destruction, climate-friendly cement, energy conservation in buildings, motor vehicle fuel injection, energy-efficient lighting and Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS).

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