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

7.11.1 Public sector

A more complete discussion of public sector policies is presented in Section 7.9 and in Chapter 13. While government use many policies to spur RDD&D in general, this section focuses specifically on programmes aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions. Domestic policies

Governments are often more willing than companies to fund higher-risk technology research and development. This willingness is articulated in the US Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program role statement: ‘The programme’s primary role is to invest in high-risk, high-value research and development that will reduce industrial energy requirements while stimulating economic productivity and growth’ (US DOE, n.d.-a). The Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the EU’s Joint Research Centre has a similar mission, albeit focusing on renewable energy (Joint Research Centre, n.d.a), as does the programme of the Japanese government’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO, n.d.).

Selection of technology is a crucial step in any technology adoption. Governments can play an important role in technology diffusion by disseminating information about new technologies and by providing an environment that encourages the implementation of energy-efficient technologies. For example, energy audit programmes, provide more targeted information than simple advertising. Audits by the US Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Center program in SMEs resulted in implementation of about 42% of the suggested measures (Muller and Barnish, 1998). Programmes or policies that promote or require reporting and benchmarking of energy consumption can have a similar function. These programmes have been implemented in many countries, including Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK and the USA (Sun and Williamson, 1999), and in specific industrial sectors such as the petroleum refining, ethylene and aluminium industries. (See Section 7.3.1).

Many of the voluntary programmes discussed in Section 7.9.2 include information exchange activities to promote technology diffusion at the national level and across sectors. For 2004, the US Industrial Technologies Program claimed cumulative energy savings of approximately 5 EJ as the result of diffusion of more than 90 technologies across the US industrial sector (US DOE, 2006). EU programmes, for example Lights of the Future and the Motor Challenge Programme (Joint Research Centre, n.d.b), have similar objectives, as do programmes in other regions.

A wide array of policies has been used and tested in the industrial sector in industrialized countries, with varying success rates (Galitsky et al., 2004; WEC, 2004). No single instrument will reduce all the barriers to technology diffusion; an integrated policy accounting for the characteristics of technologies, stakeholders and regions addressed is needed.

Evenson (2002) suggests that the presence of a domestic research and development programme in a developing country increase the county’s ability to adapt and adopt new technologies. Preliminary analysis seems to suggest that newly industrialized countries are becoming more active in the generation of scientific and technical knowledge, although there is no accurate information on the role of technology development and investments in scientific knowledge in developing countries (Amsden and Mourshed, 1997).