Sussex Energy Group briefs UN on low carbon technology

Climate talks should deliver more support for low carbon innovation in the developing world, say researchers.

University of Sussex researchers are attending the United Nations climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico, this week, where they will launch a new policy briefing on low carbon technology and the developing world (Friday 3 December).

The world's emerging economies will need to develop their own expertise if low-carbon technology is to be a part of global economic growth and help to mitigate 'dangerous' climate change, say science policy researchers from the Sussex Energy Group.

The development and uptake of low carbon technologies within developing countries is vital as those countries' economies expand.  The promise of access to low carbon technologies was an important incentive for developing nations to support the original UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.

Although the Convention was intended to support low carbon technology transfer, its success in achieving this has been limited, leaving many developing nations frustrated.

The Sussex Energy Group, along with research partners at leading research institutions in China and India, has therefore conducted research to look at the realities of low carbon innovation in these two countries - the world's biggest emerging economies.

Dr Jim Watson of the Sussex Energy Group, who is leading this research, says: "Our research shows that expertise in low carbon technologies cannot be gained by these countries acting alone. Experience from China and India demonstrates that their firms gain this expertise from a combination of sources, including from indigenous innovation and from leading international firms."

Developed country governments often voice concerns that China in particular is catching up fast ? and will soon overtake leading nations in the low carbon technology race. Stephen Chu, the US Energy Secretary said this week that the US faces a 'Sputnik moment' as China catches up.

Dr Watson says: "Despite such fears that China will soon take the lead, clear gaps in the capabilities of Chinese firms remain. Perhaps more important, most developing countries continue to face large barriers to developing these capabilities. International action within the UNFCCC and national government policies both have an essential role to play in overcoming such barriers."

 The research teams have found that:


  • Low carbon technology transfer is an essential component of the UNFCCC negotiations. However, it should be analysed and supported as a component of wider processes of low carbon innovation in developing countries.


  • Supporting low carbon innovation capabilities in developing countries is crucial. Such capabilities mean that firms and other organisations are better placed to operate and maintain low carbon technologies, to innovate through 'learning by doing', and to adapt technologies for local circumstances and markets.


  • A 'one size fits all' approach to low carbon innovation in developing countries would not be supported by the evidence. There are huge differences between different low carbon technologies and different developing countries which support a more tailored approach.


  • Developing country policies and incentives are needed to complementstronger international action on finance and technological innovation. e.g . to support the development of national innovation systems and to create local market.


Notes for editors


For a copy of the Sussex Energy Group?s briefing, Low Carbon Energy

Transfer: Lessons from India and China, visit here:


By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Friday, 3 December 2010