The UK ranks third in Europe for patenting environmental technologies, behind Germany and France, according to the European Patent Office. Between 1995 and 2011, the UK filed 3972 of the 75000 inventions categorised as ‘green tech’.
Europe produces just under a fifth of all inventions applicable to managing the impact of human activity on the environment (officially known as climate change mitigation technologies or CCMTs), and two fifths of high value inventions, defined as those where patent protection is sought in multiple countries, said the EPO. The number has risen steeply since the signing of the Kyoto Protocols in 1997, most notably in Europe and Japan. Today, they represent about 6 per cent of all new patent applications, up from 2 per cent in 1995. The trend in types of CCMT is seen in both European and worldwide applications: most are in the clean energy , followed by transport, buildings and smart grids. Six countries account for more than 80 per cent of all European CCMTs; Germany is responsible for more than half.
This technology boom has helped Europe cut its carbon intensity, defined as the mass of CO2 emited per Euro of GDP, by 30 per cent since 1995. “New technologies are urgently needed to tackle the global challenge of climate change,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. “The report shows that in combination with clear legislation and policies to promote climate-change mitigation technologies, the patent system can support research, development and innovation in this field, as well as boosting trade and investment flows, and the transfer of these new technologies to other regions.”