How Technology Can Be Marshaled to Tackle Climate Change

The fruits of innovation must be fostered and safeguarded to unleash new climate technologies.
The fruits of innovation must be fostered and safeguarded to unleash new climate technologies.

Copenhagen and New York, N.Y., December 14, 2009 – Over the next 25 years, global population is expected to rise by 1.5 billion, to 8 billion, while economic output doubles.  In that same period, worldwide energy demand will increase by 50 percent.  How can technology keep pace and still meet ambitious goals for addressing climate change?

Unleashing innovation is key, according to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which will today hold a side event at the UN climate conference focused on the need to implement sound policies to spur a technological revolution to tackle global warming.  ICC representatives say getting the policy mix right will be crucial, while making the wrong choices would set back warming efforts significantly, making future drastic action all the more likely.

“Business is the primary source of climate-related innovation, but in many cases it can’t act alone,” according to Peter M. Robinson, president and CEO of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), ICC’s American national committee, who is attending the Copenhagen conference under ICC’s banner.  “Companies often form alliances with governments, universities and research institutions in any number of areas.  These public-private partnerships can be crucial in leveraging resources and benefits, and this is clearly the case with climate-related technologies.”

ICC is coordinating business representation at the Copenhagen conference.  With hundreds of thousands of member companies in over 130 countries, the Paris-based body works closely with the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations on behalf of the business community.  A network of ICC national committees, including USCIB, represent the world business organization’s views to their governments.

According to Mr. Robinson, the most efficient way to commercialize government and academic research is to transfer or license patents to the private sector, thereby creating an incentive for companies to invest the necessary funds to bring technologies to market.

“Governments should increase funding for basic research into in environmental and energy technologies, and they must also maintain policies that encourage innovation and the dissemination of new solutions,” he said.

Protecting intellectual property rights is critical, according to Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for environment and energy, who urged UN negotiators to avoid the temptation to water down intellectual property rights under the misconception that this may speed developing countries’ access to key climate technology.

“When governments look at potential mechanisms to encourage technology transfer, they need to avoid measures that would create additional burdens and legal uncertainty for the owners of intellectual property,” Ms. Kennedy stated.  “When coupled with increased government incentives and development assistance, existing international rules covering intellectual property rights should be sufficient to ensure that advanced technologies are deployed swiftly to address climate change.”

USCIB promotes international engagement and prudent regulation in support of open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility.  Its members include top U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of the economy, and with operations in every region of the world.  With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment.


Jonathan Huneke, VP Communications, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043 or

ICC website (with links to recent statements)

More on USCIB’s Environment Committee

Staff Contact:   Kira Yevtukhova

Deputy Director, Marketing and Communications
Tel: 202.617.3160

Kira Yevtukhova manages USCIB’s print and online publications, including the website, e-newsletter and quarterly magazine, and serves as the organization’s digital media strategist. Prior to this role, Kira worked for over five years within USCIB’s Policy Department, focusing on climate change, environment, nutrition, health, and chemicals related policy issues. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and has an MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
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