What We’re Reading: Public-Private R&D Partnerships Key in All Deep Decarbonization Pathways

SDSN DDP US Energy Pathway

Illustration of U.S. energy in 2010 and 2050 under a technically feasible deep decarbonization pathway.

The technical feasibility of combating global climate disruption rests on the large-scale deployment of several low-carbon technologies, some of which are not yet fully commercialized or affordable. According to the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), results from the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) indicate that meeting the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 2° C will only be possible with “a major research, development, demonstration, and diffusion effort” involving all the largest world economies.

“…market forces alone will not be sufficient to promote the required RDD&D at the right scale, timing, and coordination across economies and sectors—even when these market forces are guided by potential large profits from the generation of new intellectual property. Technological success will therefore require a globally coordinated effort in technology development, built on technology roadmaps for each of the key, pre-commercial low-carbon technologies.”

The report also illustrates how different countries will need different energy technology pathways, based on each country’s own particular conditions; for example, the report notes that CCS, advanced nuclear power, and new types of renewables–advanced geothermal, deep offshore wind, and tidal energy–are each a key energy technology in only a subset of countries.

To the report authors, the most important step in the continued development of these technologies is the promotion of “technology roadmaps and roundtables,” or the construction of stronger public-private partnerships–a view shared by AEIC in its several studies of energy innovation success.

The report, titled Pathways to Deep Decarbonization: Interim 2014 Report, was published by both Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and can be downloaded here.