Climate-change-related technology transfer to China in the TRIPS era

  • Xi Zhang

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis attempts to look at the practical impacts that the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights has on the international transfer of technology,especially to China, and in relation to climate change technology, which is provided for by international agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. The author takes the perspective of a developing country,China, focusing on both international and national regulations in order to study the operational situation of the “pull” side of technology transfer. On the one hand, the research addresses the positive and negative effect of the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights by looking into the interpretation of its provisions; and on the other hand it examines how individual transactions, or potential transactions, of climate change technology have been affected by intellectual rights and surrounding issues, especially in projects coordinated by the Clean Development Mechanism. The transactions examined are focused upon China, which is a large and rapidly growing developing country, because it possesses certain features that make the transfer of technology both desirable (major climate change and related problems, e.g. severe air pollution) and at times problematic (e.g. its capacity to become a major manufacturer of climate change technology, putting at risk the IP rights of the transferor).

This thesis attempts to look at the outlined subject by employing a social-legal methodology to acquire information through an interview survey and to examine empirical data while discussing literatures and laws. It provides a specific and original angle from which to look at the dynamic of renewable energy technology being transferred to China. This has enabled this research to provide a relatively up-to-date insight into whether intellectual property laws hinder, or are not conductive to, technology transfer as well as the efficiency of mechanisms available under the Kyoto Protocol.

The results of the research show that although the patent data indicates a positive technology growth in China, there are still considerable difficulties in the climate change technology-transfer process. Nevertheless, importing and absorbing such technologies could be crucial to the objective of protecting the global environment. Recognizing this, the Chinese government has played a critical role in promoting technology transfer in a much more effective manner than intellectual property law amendments required by the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. In the future, governments in both the developed and developing world should put effort into establishing a financially practical framework to facilitate technology beyond expediency. The establishment of such should enable developing countries like China to address their need for environmental technologies and to play an active role as a transferor. Given the significant differences in circumstances, and the various needs of nations, reforms towards a more environmental-enabling intellectual property legal system should be conducted in several stages, before any substantial amendments are made to the current international agreements.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorMunir Maniruzzaman (Supervisor), Joe Sekhon (Supervisor), Munir Maniruzzaman (Supervisor), Joe Sekhon (Supervisor) & Fang Ma (Supervisor)

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