The heads of the national science academies from the G8 countries and five other major international players have signed statements on the need to protect and promote innovation, and to work together to ensure energy efficiency and sustainability. The statements have been presented to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will chair the next G8 meeting in June. The statement on innovation has concrete suggestions on how intellectual property can be protected, while the statement on energy and the environment focuses on the need to cooperate and to find common strategic objectives. The statements have been signed by the presidents of the national science academies of the G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US), as well as by the heads of academies in Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. 'The amount of research and development - by governments and by private industry worldwide - is far too small, given the scale and urgency of the challenge [of climate change],' said President of the UK's Royal Society, Martin Rees. 'Whether it is the development of cleaner fuels or the introduction of more efficient household electrical equipment, changes can be a spur for economic growth and can reduce the needs of individuals for electricity and heating.' The statement on innovation starts by reminding G8 leaders that innovation is the 'engine that drives economies'. Increasingly the developing world is also focusing on innovation as a route to growth and sustainability, and the developed world should facilitate the transfer of knowledge to these countries, reads the statement. But there is little point in promoting innovation without protecting it afterwards. The infringement of intellectual property rights undermines long-term progress in innovation, and G8 countries have a role to play in ensuring that both national and international regimes protect intellectual property whilst facilitating access to knowledge, say the academies. G8 countries should provide for harmonised standards to facilitate early dissemination of knowledge by an adequate 'grace period'. Such a provision would protect the inventor from potential adverse effects of his or her own publications before the filing date, says the statement. The statement also addresses previous attempts to harmonise requirements and share information. Attempts to use a Substantive Patent Law Treaty have encountered problems. 'Since the main differences and sharing requirements arise between the jurisdictions of G8 nations, these most industrialised countries of the world could forge an interim agreement among themselves,' suggest the academies. The system could involve current best practices in search and examination methods. The statement also addresses the problem of returns to the North when a patented technology is applied in the South. The academies' suggested solution is as follows: 'The G8 governments should consider subsidising development of such patented technology, and then its commercialisation in the South. This could be achieved by subsidising the technology development through a programme tied to the front end of the patent process.' In return, governments in the South would pledge to enforce the patents, and police local manufacturing under licence. On the environment, the statement recognises that climate protection goals often conflict with prosperity targets within the traditional development paradigm. But finding the right solutions will also boost prosperity in the long run. The key to slowing climate change is three-pronged, according to the statement. It involves: achieving better energy efficiency, using low- or zero-carbon energy sources, and removing carbon from the environment. 'Against this background it will be necessary to develop and deploy new sources and systems for energy supply, including clean use of coal, carbon capture and storage, unconventional fossil fuel resources, advanced nuclear systems, advanced renewable energy systems, smart grids and energy storage technologies,' reads the statement. It adds that the portfolio of approaches can only be developed through 'aggressive investment in research, development and innovation, with the efforts ranging from basic science over strategic analyses to practical applications'. The major research problems are currently: overcoming the intermittency problem for renewables, converting biomass to transport fuels, and tackling safety, waste and non-proliferation in the nuclear energy domain. The statement also argues in favour of fundamental research on the climate system, climate impacts, vulnerability at all scales, and studies on behavioural and other social issues central to implementing technological and institutional solutions. The African Union has prepared similar statements for presentation to Ms Merkel.