All eyes are on the negotiations at COP21, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, in Paris. President Obama’s opening remarks and the recent announcement by Bill Gates and other private investors of a new fund for new green technology could be seen as encouraging signs. But do policy-makers now have the courage to realise that to truly transform economies in a green direction the state must actively tilt the playing field?
We cannot rely on the private sector to bring about the kind of radical reshaping of the economy that is required. As Bill Gates recently acknowledged, only the state can provide the kind of patient finance required to make a decisive shift. In this, the hoped for green revolution must learn the lessons of the IT revolution: it will require not only massive amounts of private spending on R&D, piloting and deployment, but also (and especially) public sector agencies willing to take on risks in the most capital intensive and high risk areas. An essential part of this must be tackling the increasing financialisation of energy companies so that less money is channeled to shareholders via buybacks, and more invested in low carbon energy research.
Nudging and incentivising is not enough. Policies must actively push and pull.
A new policy brief I have written with Jim Watson (Director of the UK Energy Research Centre and Professor of Energy Policy at SPRU) and Gregor Semieniuk (Research Fellow at SPRU) outlines seven key policy areas that must be urgently considered. And a blog I have written for the Green Alliance highlights some of the key questions and challenges in the light of COP21. See links below.
What will it take to get us a Green Revolution? My policy paper with Jim Watson and Gregor Semieniuk, November 2015
No more nudges – only an entrepreneurial state can give us a green revolution. Blog for the Green Alliance, 8 November 2015
Toward a green new deal. My article for Project Syndicate, December 14, 2015
The Green Entrepreneurial State. My SPRU Working Paper, October 2015
Who will lead the Green Revolution? My article for Making It Magazine, 30 November 2014