Growth, Innovation and COP 21: The Case for New Investment In Innovation Infrastructure

Policy Brief No. 73

March 2, 2016

Forged by private and public sector cooperation, Mission Innovation was announced at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as a commitment to doubling, by 2020, the investment in energy innovation by participating countries. Mission Innovation heralds a new period of active private-public sector engagement on energy, climate and innovation policy.

Energy innovations beyond wind, solar, lithium batteries and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), in fields as diverse as methane control, transportation, post-fossil fuels chemistry and materials, the circular economy and second- generation carbon capture, sequestration and use, are ready for scale-up. The firms commercializing these solutions are already substantial employers.

The timing of country-specific global greenhousegas (GHG) peaking can be accelerated by scaling up these innovations. Their potential contributions to GHG reductions from 2020 to 2030 could be substantial if scale-up policies are enacted now. Mechanisms to address market failures in finance and market access for these innovations will have direct and significant impacts on GHG reductions and will result in employment growth as firms grow both manufacturing and innovation to meet rising demand.

Policy leaders will need to coordinate multiple policy interventions to backstop financial risk and to enable scale-up of innovations via fiscal policy, trade finance and public procurement policy for infrastructure, as well as through international development and climate finance. Coordinated policy implementation will facilitate increased global trade in manufactured environmental goods, and this increased trade may serve as the bridge to a lower-carbon global economy that sustains growth and good jobs for citizens. 

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