Discussion Paper 4 for the UK Government’s Foresight Project on the International Dimensions of Climate Change.
Not unlike the periods of energy shocks in the past three decades, a general social response to climate challenges is to call for “new technologies” to address
present problems. However, due to historical innovation practices – including extensive prior patenting of proposed solutions to environmental challenges –
patented, but undeployed technologies now stand as obstacles to legacy investment and business models. With over 100,000 environmental technology
patents in the U.K. issued, expired and abandoned on technologies never brought to market, and considering the fact that double patenting (the filing of
new patents on previously patented subject matter) is illegal, governments and business need to innovate the business of climate innovation. Specifically this paper examines the legacy of U.K. and global patenting behavior, the market consequence of environmental patent practices, and concludes with recommendations for innovation in capital markets and business required for today’s vexing challenges.