A patent-based analysis of complex green technologies and the development of new green patents after the Paris Agreement in European regions.
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Climate change is high on the global political agenda and many of the world’s developed countries have been refocusing their innovation efforts towards the development of new and complex green technologies. Certain European regions have a high output of novel technologies, and this paper investigates whether the Paris Agreement from 2015 has had any impact on the development of green technologies. One would expect a rise in patent activity related to green technologies given the urgency of the climate change issue. The results, however, show a surprising decline in recent years for the tested regions. In fact, innovations in green technologies were higher in the years leading up to the Paris Agreement. This suggests that there are policy implications, and different incentives may need to be offered to regions and economic actors. This paper takes a closer look at green technologies as defined by the OECD in their ENV- TECH grouping (Haščič & Migotto, 2015). Recent research has found that the presence of non- green complex technologies can be a catalyst for the development of novel green technologies as well as a barrier (Montresor & Quatraro, 2020; Santoalha & Boschma, 2021). This paper seeks to find evidence of whether complex green technologies concentrate in space, as it is the related capabilities in a region that influence diversification into green technologies (Santoalha & Boschma, 2021). Connecting patent data to European regions for the years 2010, 2015 and 2019, the results indicate that complex green technologies concentrate in space. Ile-de-France, Oberbayern and Stuttgart have the highest density of complex green technologies, yet green patent development has a significant downward trend after 2015. Using “structural diversity” (Broekel, 2019), the complexity of key enabling technologies (KETs) and green technologies are compared and the results indicate that green technologies are more complex than the already highly complex KETs. This result suggests that a presence of complex technologies makes it easier for regions to diversify into green technologies, and this can be one explanation for why novel green technologies concentrate in space.