At the U.N. climate conference in Paris this past December, 195 nations committed to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. While the agreement is certainly a positive sign that global leaders take climate change seriously, the path forward is less certain. Achieving the change the planet needs will require a monumental degree of innovation, which will be reachable only through a combination of government policy and initiative in private sectors. We propose a medley of elements that go beyond the much-discussed tactics of carbon pricing through a carbon tax or cap and trade exchange program.
To highlight a few suggestions: Demand can be spurred by requiring the government, which spends billions of dollars yearly, to purchase environmentally friendly products. The formation of standards can bring widespread attention to the issue and thus demand, much as the USDA standard brought the benefits of organic food to the fore of consumer awareness. Extending intellectual property protection can encourage businesses to increase their research and development spend.
Research and development will be a major part of the necessary innovation. Our research shows that clean tech typically advances in entrepreneurial clusters, such as research universities or national labs, which calls for government investment. Other investment in R&D might come from public-private partnerships or even newer investment avenues, like crowdfunding.
Additionally, expanding infrastructure can support these efforts; the lack of charging stations across the country has proven a major inhibition to mainstream use of the electric car.
Learn more about the need for a comprehensive technology and innovation policy in “Climate Action After Paris: Not the Yellow Brick Road,” on The Huffington Post/Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS) blog, by Darden Professor Michael Lenox and Erika Herz, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
ARCS, previously housed at Darden, is a partnership among academic institutions that facilitates research on corporate sustainability; Lenox is co-founder and serves on the board of directors and Herz was formerly managing director.