Introduction to Jim Watson’s blog by Dr Ralitsa Hiteva
The Global Apollo Programme to Combat Climate Change report which came out last week warns: “We are in danger”; “The perils of our current course”; “The dangerous shortfall in RD&D”. The report argues that the challenge we face as a society in limiting the rise in global temperature to 2 ̊C is a technological one, and that the solution is simply reducing the cost of renewable energy generation, storage and smart grids.The report calls for making renewable energy cheaper than coal by introducing a more ambitious program of publicly-funded research, rather than continued focus predominantly on incentives like feed-in tariffs for the private sector. However, current levels of publicly funded RD&D (research, development and demonstration) are insufficient to limit the impact of climate change to 2 ̊C.
No one can comment better on the feasibility of the report than the head of UKERC Jim Watson. Jim Watson’s blog provides a neutral and comprehensive account of its key messages, and warns against failing to utilise the potential of energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage (CCS). Jim’s call for more RD&D for energy efficiency is particularly timely, in view of announcements of government cuts to the energy efficiency budget earlier in the week.
Suggestions that making clean energy cheaper than coal will be enough to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and pitching spending on RD&D vs deployment are short-sighted and potentially dangerous for climate change ambitions. With the Apollo programme report on G7 agenda this June and the UN climate talks at Paris in a few months time, it is essential that we look beyond the large increases in funding for research, international road maps and panel of experts the report proposes. But work on strengthening the capacity of firms to develop, purchase and operate low carbon technologies, and the capacity of governments to develop effective innovation systems, as suggested by UKERC’s director.
Prof Jim Watson is the Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre, based at Imperial College, London. Jim is also Professor of Energy Policy at SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit.
Dr Ralitsa Hiteva is a Research Fellow at SEG, SPRU, University of Sussex.Follow Sussex Energy Group
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