Author : Aniruddh Mohan

Issue BriefsPublished on Sep 13, 2023 PDF Download
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Technology and Climate Change: Innovation and Partnerships for Transformational Change

The world is facing a climate-change challenge that requires nothing short of a
technological revolution to address. Yet the current patterns of technology development and
diffusions are not transformative enough; nor are they happening at a pace, rapid enough.
Actions at multiple levels engaging different actors are needed to reduce emissions while
meeting the developmental needs of the global south. This paper summarises the most
innovative ideas shared at the conference on Technology and Climate Change: Innovation and
partnerships for transitional change, organised by the Observer Research Foundation in
September 2015. The conference focused on the strategies and policies on the technology front
that will effect transformative changes in global energy systems and build adaptive capacities of
the world's most vulnerable populations. The global debate on Intellectual Property Rights
(IPRs), national policies for innovation, and bilateral opportunities for joint R&D, are all
examined in this paper, to define the technology agenda ahead of the 21st Conference of Parties
(COP) in Paris in December.

Limiting dangerous changes to the Earth’s climate and adapting to their impacts will require transformative technological breakthroughs. ‘Business as usual’ technological trajectories and incremental ‘greening’ of energy systems will just not be enough. Invention and absorption of innovative technologies will be key to reducing emissions while also meeting the development aspirations of the poor. The current pace of development and diffusion of technology is, however, neither quick nor transformative enough. ‘Lock-in’ in entrenched technological, regulatory and market systems will need to be unlocked. The scale of the challenge ahead is greater than a single country’s capacity or budget. The need of the hour is a technological revolution: a portfolio of strategies%multilateral institutional arrangements, partnerships between developed and emerging nations, cooperation between the public and private sectors and the setting up of national frameworks for innovation will be needed to create an ‘ecosystem’ for development and diffusions of new climate-relevant technologies.

Any agreement on nationally determined emission reduction targets at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) scheduled for December in Paris will be only the beginning of a global response to climate change. A slew of policies promoting climate-friendly technologies will need to be introduced to not only tackle climate change but also support development. Policies targeting innovation and diffusion of so-called ‘green’ technologies have the added advantage of appealing to many traditional concerns of national governments, such as those around energ y security, energ y efficiency and environmental protection. Mitigation tends to dominate the climate policy agenda, including that for technology. But adaptation technologies are equally critical. Coping with the impacts of climate change that are being felt currently and will be felt in the future will require major technology breakthroughs in areas such as agriculture, disaster management, health, and human habitation.

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Aniruddh Mohan

Aniruddh Mohan

Aniruddh Mohan is a climate and energy policy researcher currently based at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate Environment &amp: Energy through the Alexander von Humboldt ...

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