Mission Impossible? Five Challenges Facing 'Mission Innovation', the Global Clean Energy Innovation Drive

Hannon, Matthew (2016) Mission Impossible? Five Challenges Facing 'Mission Innovation', the Global Clean Energy Innovation Drive. [Report]

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    Abstract

    In December 2015 the landmark Paris Climate Agreement was signed by 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties(COP21). Covering the period from 2020 it obligates all parties to take action to limit global temperature rise to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.To help deliver on this target world leaders established Mission Innovation (MI), an agreement between 21 regions to double their public ‘clean energy’ research and development (R&D) investment by 2021. Through international collaboration and coordination MI aims to usher in the next generation of clean energy technologies capable of mitigating catastrophic climate change. Whilst it represents a timely and much-need initiative MI is still at an early stage and faces a number of important challenges that policy makers need to address if it is to be a success. First, a doubling of clean energy R&D investment within 5 years during a period of declining R&D public investment represents an unprecedented challenge. Its success will rely on MI members sharing best-practice in energy innovation policy to ensure not only that this increase is achieved but that it is delivered effectively, leading to high-quality innovation outputs. Second, the political credibility and durability of anon-legally binding scheme is questionable when it demands all countries to double their total clean energy R&D investment despite some already committing significantly more investment as a proportion of their wealth than others (i.e.$ R&D per GDP). Third, a clear enabling framework must make clear the scale and type of benefit each MI member will receive as proportion of their investment from multi-partner international R&D collaboration. Fourth, a combination of international and cross-sectoral coordination of R&D investment is critical to ensuring a balanced distribution of investment across different clean energy priorities and stages of innovation. Fifth, MI members need to carefully consider the carbon emissions reduction potential of their increased energy R&D investment in each priority area and how together these activities will contribute to a 2oC future.  Taking these recommendations into account will undoubtedly help transform the ground-breaking Mission Innovation from Mission Impossible to Mission Accomplished.