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This post originally appeared on the Corporate Eco Forum's Ecoinnovator blog.

Tomorrow’s leading companies will be those that pioneer innovative solutions to match climate change challenges. Today, this is largely uncharted territory; current best practices often focus on incremental product improvements (e.g., cars with moderate fuel efficiency gains) or are limited by existing business models (e.g., facility upgrades with high first costs). This type of change is not sufficient to achieve the 80 to 95 percent reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions the science tells us we need by mid-century.

This piece was written with Pablo Torres, Intern at the World Resources Institute.

During Climate Week 2011, business, government, non-profit, and civil society leaders from around the world are convening in New York City to drive a ‘clean energy revolution’. Not surprisingly, innovation in clean technologies is a common theme among many of the events.

In most models of a low-carbon future, innovation is assumed to occur and to reduce costs over time.[^1] There has been less focus on how to ensure this innovation takes place and is most effective. That is the focus of WRI’s new working paper, Two Degrees of Innovation: How to Seize the Opportunities in Low-Carbon Power.

This post was written with Pablo Torres, an intern with the Two Degrees of Innovation project.

In these turbulent economic times, leaders around the world are looking to strengthen their economies and create jobs. They are grappling with how to effectively capitalize on the green economy to drive growth. In a new WRI working paper, we look at ways that policymakers can create new green jobs through investments in innovation to meet our challenges in the power sector.

Building the capacity to innovate is a key competitiveness strategy. Successfully competing in the growing low-carbon power sector is no different. However, innovation—improvements in cost and performance—can also close the gap between the low-carbon technologies of today and the low-cost, high-performance technologies the world needs. Policymakers have a crucial role to play in supporting innovators and creating a dynamic innovation ecosystem where they can thrive.

Welcome to the Open Climate Network website, a platform for updates and analysis on country actions on climate mitigation and the provision of climate finance. Here you will find information on the latest policy developments in our partner countries and results of Open Climate Network analysis.

The Open Climate Network (OCN) is developing a set of climate policy tracking and assessment tools that will help people raise the right questions about climate-related policy design and implementation in their countries. These tools will generate a nuanced, contextualized, independent, and peer-reviewed understanding of climate policy implementation for both domestic and international audiences. Our aim is to harness the insights captured through the assessment tools and use them to engage civil society and others in the interest of improving policy design and implementation.

Recently, in the New York Times Green Column, Bettina Wassener wrote about the “Plastic Disclosure Project,” which annually surveys industry on their overall plastic use and reports back on consumption trends. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about plastic consumption, create a “plastic footprint” akin to a carbon footprint for business, and hopefully motivate industry to change their consumption habits.

This innovative idea is just one example of the movement towards “Green Industry,” a term which recognizes that in a world of increasing resource scarcity, climate change, pollution, and depletion of natural capital, economic growth must rely on clean and efficient production processes. But what exactly is “Green industry”? More importantly, given the wide variety of creative and green solutions available, how can national governments foster Green Industry to save natural resources?

The world 20 years ago looked very different from today. There was no widespread use of the internet. VHS movies rather than streaming video were the norm, and few could (nor did) imagine oil costing $100 a barrel. Innovations over this timeframe, like instant global financial transactions, social networking, and virtual communications unheard of when today’s managers entered the workforce, have fundamentally changed the way that companies do business.

Looking forward, business competitiveness and leadership depends on understanding and navigating the trends that will shape tomorrow’s markets, and positioning companies to balance the risks and opportunities to come. CK Prahalad, former WRI board member and business thought leader described the process of benchmarking corporate performance against tomorrow’s emerging opportunities as ‘next practice’.

Looking for the innovations that can help developing countries achieve a low-carbon energy future, at an affordable cost.

At this week’s Asia Clean Energy Forum, policymakers, private sector firms, and non-governmental organizations will discuss how Asian countries can transform their power sectors while meeting development needs.

One topic on the agenda will be innovation: new approaches to bring down the cost and improve the performance of low-carbon energy technologies.


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