This paper was prepared as a conference paper for the New York University / United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs Workshop on Climate Finance hosted in Abu Dhabi on January 22-23, 2011.

Executive Summary

Meeting the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 2° Celsius or less will require significant innovation - the improvement of technologies and processes to drive down their cost and improve their performance. Public climate finance is essential to spurring innovation and creating the conditions that attract private investment. Investing in innovation also makes the most efficient use of the limited financial resources available and takes advantage of the developing world's growth to improve technologies.

Countries like the UAE have an opportunity to play a pioneering role in this expanded international innovation system. Innovation will be underpinned by international cooperation that supports:

  • priority setting and coordination,
  • joint research, development and demonstration,
  • sharing information and knowledge,
  • capacity building,
  • provision of finance and
  • supporting hubs and networks.

Several international forums can fulfill portions of these functions, but each faces its own limitations and risks. In this context the UAE could uncover opportunities to be an innovation leader. For example:

  • How can IRENA and Masdar develop into a world-class innovation hub and then effectively link into the international innovation system?
  • How can the UNFCCC's Climate Technology Center and Network function effectively?
  • How can other forums such as the Clean Energy Ministerial develop to support the international innovation effort?
  • How can public climate finance be used to support innovation while deploying clean technology in the developing world?