Invention and transfer of climate change mitigation technologies on a global scale: a study drawing on patent data

Working Paper 17


Our paper uses the EPO/OECD World Patent Statistical Database(PATSTAT) to provide a quantitative description of the geographic distribution of inventions in thirteen climate mitigation technologies since 1978 and their international diffusion on a global scale.

Statistics suggest that innovation has mostly been driven by energy prices until 1990. Since then, environmental policies, and climate policies more recently, have accelerated the pace of innovation.

Innovation is highly concentrated in three countries:

  • Japan;
  • Germany;
  • and the USA.

They account for 60 per cent of total innovations.

Surprisingly, the innovation performance of emerging economies is far from being negligible, as China and South Korea together represent about 15 per cent of total inventions. However, they export much less inventions than industrialised countries, suggesting their inventions have less value.

More generally, international transfers mostly occur between developed countries (73 per cent of exported inventions).

Exports from developed countries to emerging economies are still limited (22 per cent) but are growing rapidly, especially to China.

Antoine Dechezleprêtre, Matthieu Glachant, Ivan Hascic, Nick Johnstone and Yann Ménière