UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


IIPP lead key chapter on innovation in UN Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report

27 November 2018

At Paris’ Palais Brongniart on 27 November 2018, the United Nations Environment Programme launched its highly anticipated yearly Emissions Gap Report.

Emissions Gap Report 2018

IIPP Director Professor Mariana Mazzucato and Dr Gregor Semieniuk (IIPP Fellow) were invited to produce a key chapter in this year’s Emissions Gap Report for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which provides an assessment of current national mitigation and Nationally Determined Contributions plans. 

Chapter 7 in the report, Bridging the gap: The role of innovation policy and market creation applies IIPP’s research on the topics of: mission-oriented innovation and innovation policy, risk-taking across the innovation landscape, patient strategic finance and innovation barriers to the low-carbon sector.

The chapter presents compelling key case studies, including electric vehicle innovation in China, where the government is able to co-ordinate both supply-side push and demand-side pull measures; and the government-led, risk-taking investments in solar photovoltaic (PV) innovation that have taken place in Japan, the US and Germany.  The work draws on several IIPP publications and working papers, which make for great complementary reads: Mission-oriented innovation policy and dynamic capabilities in the public sector, Mission-oriented Innovation Policy: Challenges and Opportunities, and Financing Green Growth.

Professor Mariana Mazzucato says, “We are thrilled to have contributed to this high impact report, which not only warns about climate change but also gives concrete advice on how to transform our innovation systems and economies to get there.”

Emissions and climate change are a global threat and priority where more action must be taken – and quickly. ‘Bridging the gap’ ultimately highlights the significant wins, and remaining challenges, that exist in innovating and creating technology to move us towards a new, low-carbon economy. The outcome is optimistic: by employing learning-through-doing approaches, and with the complement of successful private initiatives and financial regulation, confident, stable public institutions can implement the policies needed to dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Gregor Semieniuk, Lecturer in Economics at SOAS University of London and Honorary Senior Research Associate at IIPP, represented IIPP at the Emissions Gap Report global launch event and press conference, and introduced 'Bridging the gap'.

UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2018 launch
 Image credit: @UNEP_FI Twitter account


Noting five key principles for successful innovation that also sit at the heart of IIPP's work on innovation, the chapter discusses evidence for successes in accelerating low carbon innovation, both nationally and in new international initiatives such as 'Mission Innovation'. But it also discusses challenges to implementing such policy including funding, the capacity of innovation organisations to implement policy, and the difficulty for developing countries to catch up to rich countries' innovation capacities. A major example in the chapter is solar PV whose history illustrates a number of the innovation policy principles. The launch was hosted to coincide with Paris' Climate Finance Day, a yearly symposium of government, researchers, and industry representatives.

The full Emissions Gap Report is available here, with IIPP’s work from Chapter 7.

Our co-authors include Kelly Sims Gallagher (Tufts University), Anna Geddes (ETH Zurich), Ping Huang (Tufts University), Friedemann Polzin (Utrecht University), Clare Shakya (International Institute for Environment and  Development), Bjarne Steffen (ETH Zurich) and Hermann Tribukait (Mexico Energy Innovation Funds).