Sir David King calls for increased R&D spend on renewable energy

Respected scientist and Oxford academic, Sir David King, has called on the British Government to use its 'limited' cash reserves to boost private sector investment in renewable energy technologies.

In International climate change negotiations: Key lessons and next steps, Sir David calls on individual governments to take more action to curb emissions.

The Government’s former chief scientist suggests an increase in research and development spending ‘particularly within the energy sector’ is vital to cutting worldwide emission rises.

The professor goes further calling on the UK Government to give public sector funding to lever in ‘significant’ private sector investment.

In the report, Sir David argues, the co-benefits between energy security, economic stimulus through energy efficiencies and innovation, and tackling climate change should be highlighted to the business world.

Sir David, who is director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, said: “International climate negotiations can only go so far.

“Systems such as pledge-and-review set up in Copenhagen and Cancun are a useful way forward in the absence of an internationally legally-binding agreement, but individual Governments must provide urgent political leadership – that is not happening at present.

“It is simply not acceptable that major developed nations such as the US are not behind a global agreement.

“The US, despite some good rhetoric and with the exception of California, is still a blocker when it comes to reaching a global agreement, with other nations, namely Japan and Russia, becoming increasingly vocal in their resistance to a second commitment phase, post 2012, to the Kyoto Protocol.”

The report, from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, has today (July 18) examined the international efforts to fight climate change through the UNFCCC and G8/G20 processes.

In particular, the outcomes of the Copenhagen and Cancun Conference of Parties (COP) are examined.

While the report says the pledge and review systems established both in Copenhagen (COP15) and Cancun (COP16) is a ‘useful way’ forward it is ‘still a long way’ from what is needed.


Sir David calls for new forums for negotiations to run in parallel with the UNFCCC process to take the focus to bilateral and regional action and states individual Governments need to take more action to curb emissions rises.

The report also puts forward a further series of actions:

* Limit emissions from deforestation through incentive-based policies.

* Increase research and development spend, particularly within the energy sector, with public sector funding leveraging significant private sector investment.

* A significant price on CO2 emissions to encourage investment in the green economy.

* Bringing developing countries into the carbon markets in order to encourage low carbon development, provide finance and make the most of mitigation opportunities.

Luke Walsh

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