UNU-MERIT publishes report on innovation drivers and barriers

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  • 2011•04•21     Maastricht

    While innovation policy represents a powerful toolbox for mitigating climate change, to be effective it has to coherently target a range of issues including resource scarcity, demographic change and rising global affluence.

    This is the message of a new report — “Analysis of Innovation Drivers and Barriers in Support of Better Policies: Economic and Market Intelligence on Innovation” —- produced by UNU-MERIT for Directorate General for Enterprise (DG-Enterprise) of the European Commission.

    The first aim of climate policy is to prevent dangerous levels of global warming linked to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In the EU, CO2 from energy sources accounts for over three quarters of all greenhouse gas emissions.

    The report by UNU-MERIT researchers Anthony Arundel, Minna Kanerva and René Kemp identifies two paths for achieving mitigation benefits:

    • decarbonization of electrical power generation and electrification of the transport sector;
    • dematerialization of the economy through energy-efficient products, including homes, and re-use and recycling of products and waste.

    Pursuing these paths will require policy makers to exert pressure on carbon-based systems and to nurture alternatives.

    The report, which draws on state-of-the-art in innovation studies and policy-led transitions, makes 12 interlinked recommendations. According to this plan, EU innovation policy for climate change should:

    • be incorporated in a green-growth and quality-of-life strategy;
    • rely on identified barriers to innovation;
    • prevent windfall gains and regulatory capture;
    • be guided by a dedicated agency;
    • rely on a mix of technology-specific and generic policies;
    • encourage significantly higher levels of public R&D support;
    • focus on getting innovations adopted;
    • improve policy coordination;
    • use strategic intelligence in the selection of innovation projects;
    • support a broad portfolio of options for climate mitigation;
    • ensure policy learning; and
    • seek international policies to fund zero carbon energy in developing countries and discourage carbon emissions elsewhere.

    This report, the first in a series of six INNO-Grips (“Global Review of Innovation Policy Studies”) analyses, concludes that a continuous, coherent, forward-looking process of adaptive policy-making will be key to a successful energy transition. The further development of tools to analyse what capacities need to be built is therefore essential.