UK Ranks 3rd in Green Tech Inventions in Europe

Dec 08, 2015, 04:58 ET from European Patent Office (EPO)

PARIS and MUNICH, December 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

From Kyoto to Paris: Inventions in Climate Change Mitigation Technologies Growing Strongly 

  • New report finds number of inventions in sustainable technologies worldwide increased almost fivefold between 1995 and 2011
  • First comprehensive analysis of patent and economic data on Climate Change Mitigation Technologies (CCMTs) in Europe
  • UK with third highest number of low-carbon inventions in Europe
  • Europe produces 18% of the world's CCMT inventions
  • Low-carbon inventions today represent 6% of the world's inventions
  • CO2 per Euro of European GDP down by one third since 1995
  • EPO President Battistelli: "The patent system has an important role to play in encouraging research, development and innovation, as well as supporting trade and investment flows, and the transfer of new climate change mitigation technologies across regions."

A new study conducted by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that inventions in climate change mitigation technologies have seen a fivefold increase worldwide between 1995 and 2011. It also finds that Europe is a leading region for low-carbon inventions.

"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."

Green technologies on the rise 

Presented at the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2015 organised alongside the UNFCC COP 21 in Paris, the report finds that the number of inventions in climate change mitigation technologies (CCMTs) worldwide has risen steadily since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 (see Graph 1: A boom in green tech inventions). This suggests that the implementation of climate change policies has helped stimulate innovation in CCMTs.

Low-carbon inventions today represent 6% of the world's inventions 

The growth in low-carbon inventions has been much faster than in other technologies; today they represent nearly 6% of all of the world's inventions, up from 2% in 1995. Public policies put in place after the Kyoto Protocol signing appear to have been particularly successful in encouraging the development of CCMTs in Europe. As a result, the carbon intensity of Europe's GDP has fallen by 30% in the last decades, meaning the CO2 (in kg) per Euro of European GDP is down by one third since 1995, (Graph 2: CCMT inventions and CO2 intensity in Europe 1995-2010), and has been the lowest in the developed world since 2000.

Europe is a global leader in climate change mitigation inventions 

The study shows that Europe is among the leaders in technical advances towards a lower carbon economy. The region produces nearly one fifth of all low-carbon inventions in the world. Looking at "high-value" inventions (those with higher economic potential, for which patent protection is sought in more than one country), Europeans account for nearly two fifths.

Europe's contribution to global inventive efforts is very significant across all CCMT areas (Graph 3: European CCMT inventions by technology 1995-2011). Most CCMT inventions in Europe (and also worldwide) are made in the clean energy and transport sectors, followed by buildings. When comparing CCMT inventions with inventions in all areas of technology, Europe has become increasingly specialised since 1995, and now counts among the most advanced regions in the world in low-carbon technologies.

UK ranks third in green tech inventions in Europe 

Six countries account for more 80% of all European inventions in sustainable technologies; Germany leads, with almost half of Europe's CCMT inventions, followed by France, the UK, Italy, Sweden and Spain (Graph 4: European CCMT inventions by country 1995-2011).

Europe is also strong in trade of low-carbon goods; it is the biggest importer and second-largest exporter of CCMT products. At the same time, the region acts as a major source of Foreign Direct Investment in CCMTs, with investment spanning all continents. The study shows that cross-border patent filings go hand in hand with trade and foreign investment in CCMTs, which encourages international technology transfer of CCMTs through these channels.

EPO-UNEP: shedding light on the debate 

In order to facilitate an informed debate about the role of patents in the development and deployment of sustainable technologies, the EPO and UNEP have worked together closely since 2009 on a series of joint studies looking at patent filing trends in CCMTs. The latest report "Climate change mitigation technologies in Europe - evidence from patent and economic data" follows three previous reports: "Patents and climate change mitigation technologies in Latin America and the Caribbean" (2014), "Patents and clean energy technologies in Africa" (2013) and "Patents and clean energy technologies" (2010).


  • Full report: Climate change mitigation technologies in Europe - evidence from patent and economic data (December 2015) 

The following materials are also available for download on the same webpage (PDF): 

  • Executive summary of the report (En/Fr/De)
  • Infographic: Green technologies: how inventive is Europe?
  • Brochure (Short summary of Europe report): Five facts about climate change, innovation and the role of patents (En)
  • Brochure (summary of all EPO-UNEP reports): Patents and climate change mitigation technologies: evidence to support policy (En)

About the EPO

With some 7 000 employees, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest European public service institutions. Its headquarters are in Munich and it also has offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna. The EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through its centralised patent granting procedure, inventors can obtain patent protection in up to 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation. The EPO is also the world's leading public authority for patent searches and information. 

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SOURCE European Patent Office (EPO)