Changes in energy R+D needed to combat climate change

Past and current investments into developing climate-friendly technologies (R&D, right) versus future technology needs (min/mean/max across scenarios, left) by technology category.

A fresh assessment of future scenarios that restrict the extent of global warming cautions that unless present imbalances in R&D portfolios for the development of new, efficient, and clean energy technologies are redressed, greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals are unlikely to be met, or fulfilled only at considerable costs.

The study identifies energy efficiency as the only most important option for achieving critical and long term reductions in GHG emissions, accounting for up to 50 percent of the reduction potential over the wide range of scenarios analyzed. Nevertheless, investment in energy efficiency R&D has typically been less than 10 percent of the total public sector R&D budget in the nations of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The evaluation is dependant on the evaluation of a broad variety of scenarios of future technology deployment speeds under a variety of future doubts and climate constraints.
“Given their respective significance for future climate decrease this is an important imbalance. Predicated on current investments, we estimate that the five fold increase in investment in energy efficiency is necessary to address this imbalance. Importantly, in the event the existing rate and allocation of investment in energy R&D is kept there’s a high chance that technology development will be insufficient to fulfill strict GHG reduction goals.”