Given the finding discussed above, it’s particularly valuable if climate change mitigation can grow the economy. That’s one lens through which to look at the UK Government’s recently announced plans for a “green industrial revolution
”. This is a series of proposals to accelerate the post-coronavirus economic recovery through investment in low-, zero- and negative-carbon technologies. Richard Jones - whose work on R&D we discussed in TiB 94
and TiB 117
- has a superb analysis of the plans here
Jones is broadly positive, though worries that there’s too much hope invested in getting breakthroughs from relatively small sums invested in R&D. As Matt Clancy (again!) shows in this interesting post
, it usually takes around 20 years to get from scientific breakthrough to real-world impact - which is a long time in climate change on our current trajectory. Jones’ blog is a treasure trove of thoughtful pieces on the underlying opportunities, including nuclear
and carbon capture
(but do read in conjunction with this new profile
of Stripe’s impressive work in this area).
The post directly addresses one of the biggest questions for (non-US, non-China) policymakers today: what can and should a medium sized power do? As Jones notes, most countries should expect to be consumers, not producers, of most of the necessary innovations, so (as in startups) problem selection is key. Jones suggests that the UK has strong competitive advantages in offshore wind - and highlights nuclear fusion as a more speculative, but important, bet. As Jones says, the proposals are “patchy and insufficient”, but still important and, perhaps, a hopeful step forward.