IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

1.3.3 Technology research, development and deployment: needs and trends Research and development

Technology research and development (R&D) are important for altering the emission trends shown in the previous sections. In the absence of measures fostering the development of climate-friendly technologies and/or a lack of incentives for their deployment, however, it is not a priori obvious in which direction R&D will influence emissions. Because of the longevity of energy infrastructures (lock-in effect), it is the near-term investment decisions in the development, deployment and diffusion of technologies that will determine the long-term development of the energy system and its emissions (Gritsevskyi and Nakicenovic, 2002).

Generally speaking, it would be economically impossible without technology research, development, demonstration, deployment and diffusion (RDDD&D) and induced technology change (ITC), to stabilize GHG concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Government support is crucial at the development stage, but private investment will gradually replace the former for deployment (creating necessary market transformation) and for diffusion (successful market penetration).

However, RDDD&D alone is insufficient and effective climate policies are also required (Baker et al., 2006). A recent international modelling comparison exercise (Edenhofer et al., 2006) has shown that ITC not only has the potential to reduce mitigation costs substantially but that it is also essential to the stabilization of concentration levels of CO2, avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference.

There are various types of technologies that can play significant roles in mitigating climate change, including energy efficiency improvements throughout the energy system (especially at the end use side); solar, wind, nuclear fission and fusion and geothermal, biomass and clean fossil technologies, including carbon capture and storage; energy from waste; hydrogen production from non-fossil energy sources and fuel cells (Pacala and Socolow, 2004; IEA, 2006b). Some are in their infancy and require public RDDD&D support, while others are more mature and need only market incentives for their deployment and diffusion. Some also need persevering efforts for public acceptance (Tokushige et al., 2006) as well as the resolution of legal and liability issues.