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Launch of the Report at COP26 - numerous people in a room arranged in a panel lay out. TV screens on the wall with the report title.

COP26 Launch of Flagship report on the “New Economics of Innovation and Transition” with Cambridge Researchers

In the evening of November 4 (“Energy Day”) in the UK Pavilion, researchers from the project on the Economics of Energy Innovation and System Transition (EEIST) presented the new flagship report on “The New Economics of Innovation and Transition: Evaluating Risks and opportunities” (available here https://eeist.co.uk/).

The EEIST Project includes researchers from the UK (including Exeter University, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University College London, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge Econometrics and Climate Strategies), India (The Energy and Resources Institute, World Resources Institute), Brazil (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, University of Brasilia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), China (Tsinghua University, Energy Research Institute) and Italy (Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e di Perfezionamento Sant’Anna) was made possible with support from UK BEIS and the Children Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). 

The report, which has 28 authors, was led by Prof. Michael Grubb (UCL) and has seven authors from the Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance (CEENRG) at Cambridge, including Dr. Jean-Francois Mercure (also at Exeter), Dr. Sergey Kolesnikov, Dr. Aileen Lam, Dr. Cristina Penasco, Hector Pollitt, Dr. Pablo Salas, and myself.   

The research points to the fact that “along with rising climate impacts, the last decade has seen radical developments in low-carbon technologies once assumed to be very costly and/or too limited.” Michael Grubb noted in his presentation that the report does not only talk about the promise of such technologies to advance climate goals, but (crucially), lays out the lessons we can draw from such examples of fast innovation. In various presentations, project researchers showed that a mix of policies made fast innovation trajectories possible and that, over time, the focus goes from ‘strategic investment’ (in R&D and early deployment), the structure of ‘markets and pricing’, to policies that influence ‘norms and behaviour.’

We hope that insights from the report will help formulate new policies in NDCs to deliver the emissions reductions needed to 2030 as well as the growing number of longer term net zero targets—something which is very much needed. It can also as inform cooperative efforts to make net-zero aligned technologies cheaper.

The launch of the report was expertly and energetically led by Simon Sharpe, Deputy Director at the UK Government’s Cabinet Office COP26 Unit. With presentations by Prof. Michael Grubb and case writers and a discussion featuring policymakers from India and Brazil, as well as policy practitioners and analysts from the UK and the Bezos Earth Fund, the session was a very positive and constructive conversation that continued into a drinks reception. The room was packed (although, like many other venues at COP, it was not too big) and the discussion and Q&A focussed on the development and SDG context as well as what new ways of supporting decisions may tell us about how to prioritize action.   

Watch the launch here.