Ch. 14 Climate Change Innovation, Products and Services Under the GATT/WTO System

Padideh Ala'i

This innovative research tool presents insights from a global group of leading intellectual property, environment, trade, and industrial scholars on the emerging and controversial topic of intellectual property and climate change. It provides a unique review of the scientific background, international treaties, and political context of climate change; identifies critical conflicts and differences of approach; and describes the relevant intellectual property law doctrines and policy options for regulating, developing, or disseminating needed technologies, activities, and business practices.


The chapter aims to identify some of the major sources of tension between climate change-related measures proposed or implemented on the national level and the trading rules as they have been applied by the WTO dispute settlement bodies over the past nearly 20 years. The chapter first describes three categories of national approaches to climate change, and highlights the potential competitiveness concerns raised by each. It then discusses selected WTO provisions that are most likely to be used to evaluate WTO treaty-compliance of the three categories of national measures. These include an analysis of Articles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994), other Annex 1A Agreements addressing trade in goods, and a brief discussion of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Finally, the chapter focuses on WTO and US trade remedy laws, as countries may utilize these provisions and mechanisms to address competitiveness issues that will inevitably come about, such as from subsidizing green technologies. The chapter ultimately discusses the importance of reaching an international agreement on reducing tariffs on international trade in environmentally friendly goods, and of reducing greenhouse emissions so that national actions are less likely to be unilateral measures.”