Governance Sought For Climate Tech As Bill Gates Applies For Patent

BARCELONA – As a global climate change convention is being discussed in Barcelona, the US House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology scheduled a hearing on 5 November about the implications of large-scale climate intervention, also called geoengineering. Geoengineering is the “intentional, large-scale plans to modify the climate and related system,” according to Diana Bronson, programme manager for the non-profit ETC group. Geoengineering technologies can include systems to simulate a volcanic eruption by shooting sulphur particles into the stratosphere to reflect the sun’s rays back to outer space, or putting iron particles in the oceans to feed algae that might reduce carbon dioxide, she said in a story. “The meeting could be a first step towards establishing federal support for geoengineering research,” according to the ScienceInsider blog.

Such technologies, boosted by climate change mitigation expectancies, are already being patented. Bill Gates of Microsoft and others applied for a patent in July 2009 on a system to suppress hurricanes, according to a patent application [pdf] communicated by ETC to Intellectual Property Watch.

Civil society is concerned about such new technologies and the potential impact they could have on the environment, and ETC is asking for a multilateral body specifically mandated to take on the governance and regulation of emerging technologies, Bronson told Intellectual Property Watch.

Meanwhile, the US Chamber of Commerce on 4 November issued a statement praising a bipartisan set of Senators who the Chamber said sent a letter of support for intellectual property rights protection to the Barcelona climate talks.

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