SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Climate Change and Sustainability - COP21

Three members of SPRU will present their research on low carbon innovation and enabling a low carbon economy at side events to the UN Conference of Parties conference (COP 21), taking place from 30 November to 11 December 2015, in Paris, France.

COP21 represents a historic opportunity to produce a ‘universal climate agreement’ for global action. Low carbon innovation – in energy, transport and food – is crucial to creating pathways to tackle climate change. SPRU’s research has identified policies and financial practices that could enable countries and communities to develop the innovation they need to make this happen.

Alongside the main COP21 meeting, Dr Rob Byrne will present his research on climate relevant innovation system builders that can enable a transition to a low carbon economy. He will also discuss how the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism can be strengthened to promote the building of national systems of innovation in developing countries. Such systems are essential to fostering the development and transfer of technology for both climate change adaptation and mitigation – for low carbon innovation and other approaches and systems.

Dr Adrian Ely and Dr Sam Geall will participate in a panel discussion and introduce the work of the project 'Low Carbon Innovation in China: Prospects, Politics and Practice.' This includes a briefing by Dr Geall (in cooperation with chinadialogue) about China's changing position on climate and how China's low carbon future offers opportunities, globally.

Dr Byrne will also take part in a panel discussion organized by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on financing technology transfer and private sector engagement.

The STEPS Centre, which is jointly run by SPRU and the Institute of Development Studies, in conjunction with colleagues at the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) will also be showcasing research and publications on technology, society and climate at the COP21 site, in the Exhibits Area. Follow @stepscentre for updates.

Delegates from almost 200 countries will attend the COP21 meetings and a host of side events. The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the annual Conference of Parties (COP) reviews implementation of the Convention. In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.


Tuesday 1 December
"Asia's Giants: China and India Key to the Climate" Press Conference
10.00-10.30. Press Conference Room 3, Media Centre, Le Bourget conference venue.
Live webcast on UNFCCC website.

Mitigation contributions from developing countries: innovation, technology and scenario analysis
15.00 – 16.30. Side events area, Room OR 03

Wednesday 2 December
Financing climate technology transfer, and private sector engagement
09.00 – 12.00. IETA/WBCSD space within COP arena – Blue Zone

Friday 4 December
Climate Relevant Innovation-system Builders (CRIBs): how to strengthen the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism
15.00 – 16.30. Climate Generations area, Room 1

"Asia's Giants: China and India Key to the Climate" – Media briefing
19.00-21.00. Holiday Inn Paris, Gare de l’Est, 5, rue du 8 Mai 1945

More information

Project: Low carbon innovation in China – prospects, politics and practice

Policy Briefing: CRIBs (Climate Relevant Innovation-system Builders) A powerful new focus for international climate technology policy
A short, readable summary of the ideas around CRIBs.


In between hope and scepticism, COP21: Forwards or backwards and We have a plan by Michele Stua, 10-12 December 2016 (SPRU website)

Why Climate Negotiations Should Tackle ‘Technology Injustice’, by Rob Byrne, 26 November 2015 (STEPS blog)

What is Ecological Civilisation? by Sam Geall, 4 November 2015 (STEPS blog)

China’s climate transition by Sam Geall, New Internationalist, November 2015

8 ways to ensure innovation benefits all of us by Melissa Leach (IDS) and Adrian Ely, 25 September 2015, World Economic Forum agenda

Has China’s green transformation begun? by Sam Geall, 9 July 2015 (Our Common Future blog)

Climate innovation systems can help us reframe international technology policy by David Ockwell and Rob Byrne, 6 July 2015 (Our Common Future blog)

Time for technology in international policy processes? by Adrian Ely, 6 July 2015 (Our Common Future blog)

National Systems of Innovation: UN climate technology policy takes a positive turn by David Ockwell, 9 December 2014


 *Image courtesy of CIFOR, Flickr