Programmes to fast-track green patent applications accelerate the diffusion of green technologies, according to a new study by Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute, Antoine Dechezleprêtre.

Since 2009, a number of countries have put in place these programmes with the aim of accelerating the development and diffusion of environmentally-friendly technologies. Most recently, China and Brazil have also adopted such measures.

This study – published by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development in Geneva – is the first empirical analysis of green patent fast-tracking procedures, which allow applications to be examined and granted at a faster pace than regular patent applications.

Data from the study shows that green fast-tracking programmes can reduce the time from application to the grant of a patent by 42 to 75 per cent.

Climate change-related technologies – particularly renewable energy technologies – represent the vast majority of patents in the fast-tracking programmes, the study finds. The main technologies requesting accelerated examination are wind power in the US and carbon capture and storage in Australia and Canada.

Another important finding is that fast-track patents are of significantly higher commercial value and may therefore be the subject of greater interest from potential business partners than other green patents. Because fast-tracked patents are published sooner, the programmes accelerate the diffusion of clean technological knowledge, as evidenced by the number of times fast-track patents are cited by subsequent inventors.

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