Climate Change, Innovation and Technology Policy

Climate Change Innovation and Technology Policy (725 KB)

Published: 2015

Author: Adam Jaffe

Event: IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture - QUT Institute for Future Environments

There is a strong foundation in theoretical and empirical research in economics for the proposition that efficient climate policy must include both carbon-price policy and technology policy. Even the most modest projections of Greenhouse Gan ("GHG") reductions needed to moderate climate change imply very large reductions in the carbon-intensity of the world economy.

There is no good historical analogue to the needed transformation, but the closest parallels all involved major roles for technology policy. Increased public funding of research and training is a necessary but not sufficient component of such policy. Historical experience with technological transformation in other sectors suggests that government support for purchases of low-carbon technologies will be needed. Unfortunately, we do not have good evidence on efficient design of such programs.

We need systematic evaluation of different policy instruments designed to accelerate the transformation of basic technologies into large-scale commercial products. We have the "technology" to do this kind of systematic evaluation, but it is not generally used.