Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Clean energy researchers have recommended more money, a more reliable supply of money, and less oversight over their work to help save the planet.
Clean energy: Experts outline how governments can successfully invest before it’s too late
Date: December 6, 2017
Source: University of Cambridge
Researchers distil twenty years of lessons from clean energy funding into six ‘guiding principles’. They argue that governments must eschew constant reinventions and grant scientists greater influence before our ‘window of opportunity’ to avert climate change closes.
Governments need to give technical experts more autonomy and hold their nerve to provide more long-term stability when investing in clean energy, argue researchers in climate change and innovation policy in a new paper published today.
Writing in the journal Nature, the authors from UK and US institutions have set out guidelines for investment based on an analysis of the last twenty years of “what works” in clean energy research and innovation programs.
Their six simple “guiding principles” also include the need to channel innovation into the private sector through formal tech transfer programs, and to think in terms of lasting knowledge creation rather than ‘quick win’ potential when funding new projects.
The authors offer a stark warning to governments and policymakers: learn from and build on experience before time runs out, rather than constantly reinventing aims and processes for the sake of political vanity.
“As the window of opportunity to avert dangerous climate change narrows, we urgently need to take stock of policy initiatives around the world that aim to accelerate new energy technologies and stem greenhouse gas emissions,” said Laura Diaz Anadon, Professor of Climate Change Policy at the University of Cambridge.
“If we don’t build on the lessons from previous policy successes and failures to understand what works and why, we risk wasting time and money in a way that we simply can’t afford,” said Anadon, who authored the new paper with colleagues from the Harvard Kennedy School as well as the University of Minnesota’s Prof Gabriel Chan.
The six evidence-based guiding principles for clean energy investment are:
- Give researchers and technical experts more autonomy and influence over funding decisions.
- Build technology transfer into research organisations.
- Focus demonstration projects on learning.
- Incentivise international collaboration.
- Adopt an adaptive learning strategy.
- Keep funding stable and predicable.
The referenced nature paper article says more or less the same thing except they used a lot more words.
The science is settled. If we want to save the world from climate change, we need to give clean energy researchers lots of money and not press too hard for results or ask too many questions about how they intend to spend it – especially the international collaboration component of their proposal, which I suspect will require regular expenses paid mass attendance by researchers at important scientific conferences around the world in places like Paris, Rio, Bonn and Cancun.