Fast lane for innovation key to avoid rocky road of climate change



Posted on 16 June 2011  | 
While the United Nations climate talks in Bonn this week creep forward, a new WWF report says that fast and scaled up support for innovative approaches to developing a low-carbon economy is possible.

Enabling the Transition – Climate Innovation Systems for a Low Carbon Future, released today, calls for inclusive actions of equal speed and scale and states that “the speed, scale and complexity of climate change is having a multiplying effect on other environmental stresses”.

"The International Energy Agency has just reported record high emissions in 2010. WWF's new report on innovation shows that governments can create the fast lane to global deployment of clean technologies,” said Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative.

“While industry is starting to get on board, governments are called upon to make clean technology markets grow at a fast pace. They need to introduce stronger national legislation as much as finalizing the international framework currently negotiated in Bonn."

The report assesses nine economies – China, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the European Union. It shows a range of common conditions for moving fast towards a low carbon economy: they include strengthening domestic and international technology collaboration, establishing new low carbon markets, stimulating demand, and attracting private capital.

Providing reliable, affordable and clean energy on the scale required will need large initial investment. But the benefits would be much greater in the long term, providing economic and development opportunities and massive cost savings.

“Every country and region has its own unique starting point and ability to create enabling environments for climate entrepreneurship,” said Samantha Smith. “However, they also share a great deal of the challenges and the opportunities gained from strengthening climate innovation systems.”

Increased collaboration and investments must be facilitated and reinforced with carefully designed policies, the report states. These policies should include re-directing the existing $ 200-500 billion global fossil fuel subsidies into sustainable energy solutions, as well as rewarding transformative solutions in public procurement and economic stimulus packages.

“The overwhelming majority of capital required for making the transition to low carbon will come from private sources, and that money will flow where it expects to achieve the highest return on investments. We need to discuss how to attract private capital to climate innovations, including targeted support from public funds” said Magnus Emfel, Manager Climate Innovations at WWF Sweden and editor of the report.

“The UNFCCC should send a clear signal to countries about the level of ambition for low carbon innovation,” said Samantha Smith. “Unfortunately, progress in Bonn is sluggish at best – our report shows how governments could move into the fast lane.”

The on-going United Nations meeting in Bonn is preparing for the climate conference in South Africa at the end of 2011 (UNFCCC COP 17, 28 Nov to 9 Dec 2011). WWF says that progress and agreements should be reached in Bonn on a number of critical stepping stones, including public climate finance, all of which can then be successfully finalized in Durban, South Africa.


1,000 ice sculptures melt under the Berlin sun as symbols of the effects of climate change.
© Rosa Merk - WWF Enlarge

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