20 March 2012
First, at the EPO we are well aware of the many possibilities for reducing the adverse effects of human activity on the world we live in. More and more of the patent applications we receive every day aim to reduce energy consumption, or are concerned with clean energy in general. And the patent system creates incentives to innovate in green technology, as in any other technical field. The EPO, together with UNEP and ICTSD, has already worked on a mapping study for clean-energy technologies. This was published in September 2010, and has helped us to identify and classify thousands of patents. Similar work will be completed soon in transport and other fields.
Second, the EPO wants to make its own contribution. Since 2009, we have been operating an environmental policy based on EMAS, the EU’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. This has given us a clear overall picture, and a systematic approach to environmental matters at all EPO sites. Moreover, the UN has designated 2012 as “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All”, and we are committed to achieving a 3% reduction in our CO2 emissions compared with 2011 – which will of course require contributions from all our staff.
An awareness campaign is already under way, and will run throughout the year. To take just one example, we have decided to reduce our travel-related carbon footprint by increasing the use of video conferencing for both oral proceedings and internal meetings, and have so far installed almost 80 new vico facilities Office-wide. In the near future, we also expect big reductions in paper consumption from introducing the e-dossier as part of our IT roadmap. The buildings too will play their part: the new windows in our renovated Isar building in Munich should cut our energy needs for heating and cooling by 20%, and we intend to ensure that our new building in The Hague meets the highest environmental standards.
In this way, we are resolved to make a contribution that will continue long after the current year is over.