An analysis of ways to promote the policy and market structures for deploying low-carbon technologies to mitigate climate change. This report is a collaboration between WRI and the Goldman Sachs Center for Environmental Markets.

Executive Summary

Climate change is not just an environmental challenge. It is becoming a defining fact of economic development.

  • A major obstacle to addressing the climate challenge is the daunting scale of potential solutions. In essence, reducing emissions to safe levels means transforming the way we produce and use energy, whether in power, transport, or heating and cooling, as well as many important industrial processes.
  • A number of options exist for reducing emissions by managing energy demand and employing low-carbon energy supplies that can make major contributions to clean economic growth. Yet three areas need to coalesce into a coherent vision in order to achieve adequate levels of emissions reductions:
    • The technologies involved, including the physical and capacity-related constraints to deploying them.
    • The investment required: who will provide it, the mechanisms they will use, and its cost.
    • The policies that will offer the most effective incentives to providers of both technology and capital to implement lower-emission solutions.
  • A paper by two Princeton researchers provided a mental framework to discuss these solutions by breaking the required emission reductions down into manageable (though still large) "wedges," each provided by a different technology or set of technologies. Owing to its solution-oriented framework, the wedges approach has captured the imagination of those eager to tackle climate change.
  • This paper presents an overview, using the wedges framework, on how technology, investment and policy interact. It is intended to engage actors in the policy and investment communities as the key enablers of clean technology deployment worldwide.