The world can save an estimated $550 billion on the cost of deploying clean energy technologies over the next decade if countries work together to accelerate innovation by unlocking global collaboration, according to the Carbon Trust.
This is one of the key findings in a new report, United Innovations: cost-competitive clean energy through global collaboration, published by the trust, with funding from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Prosperity Fund.
Carbon Trust analysis estimates investments of $5trillion will be needed to deploy low carbon energy technologies by 2025. This could be reduced by over $550billion through collaborative innovation.
A lack of collaboration between national programmes runs the risk of duplicating efforts. More significantly, a lack of effective coordination has resulted in the emergence of a number of barriers, such as misaligned incentives and contradicting regulatory regimes, which prevent private sector involvement at scale.
Most technologies needed for the transition to a low carbon energy system already exist, but costs need to be reduced and deployment accelerated to have any chance of meeting 2050 climate targets. Global collaboration can help, but it has proven extremely difficult to generate real momentum for action.
Over the past two decades there have been hundreds of bilateral and multilateral commitments on low carbon technology innovation. Some have delivered success but the overall impact has been less than expected. In many cases the original intentions behind agreements have been lost and implementation has been limited.
Trust chief executive Tom Delay, said: “Transitioning to a low carbon energy system is beyond the capability of any single country. Climate change is a global problem that needs global solutions. We are seeing unprecedented levels of commitment from COP21 in Paris, but to ensure we keep to a two-degree scenario the road through Paris cannot only be paved with good intentions.
“We need action, we need more of it and we need it now. We cannot afford to wait any longer. The technological foundations of the transition to a low carbon energy system must be laid in the next ten years.
“We must work together to make it happen, but we recognise that collaboration can be a particularly difficult endeavour. The good news is that working together is good for a country’s national interests, creating a bigger share of a bigger prize.”
The report also highlights that newly industrialising economies and developing countries represent 90% of growth in future energy consumption.
They have faced difficulties in accessing and adapting low carbon technologies. But they can overcome this challenge by working with developed countries as active participants, not passive recipients, of technology transfers, according to the Trust.