UCL Grand Challenges


Outputs from the Carbon Governance project

Below you can read the outputs that have emerged from the Carbon Governance project, which will be added as they are published.

"Stemming the Flow: A New Direction for Climate Change Governance""

Rapley, C., de Cendra de Larragán, J.,McDowall, W., and Ekins, P.


In order to stabilise the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide at a level that avoids dangerous human interference with the climate system, it is estimated that the prudent upper limit on the remaining fossil fuel carbon that humanity can burn is of the order 0.5 trillion tons. The energy that this will generate is needed to sustain society for the interim, whilst powering the transformation to a low carbon source of energy production. Sustaining society includes providing access to an affordable and reliable supply of energy to the 1.3 billion currently lacking such access.

Climate change governance is thus inseparable from energy governance. However, the two regimes have different historical origins, guiding principles, key actors, overall goals, scope, mechanisms and interfaces with non-energy systems. Hence, the problem of decarbonising the global energy supply is complex and fraught. Here we explore the sources of difficulty, the emerging linkages between both regimes, tensions arising therein, and ways in which they could be combined to become mutually reinforcing. We argue that a more integrated approach is essential to avoid conflicting agendas and also offers potential synergies that could accelerate policy-making. In this context, a complex, multi-level and multi-arena regime is unavoidable.

“The development of wind power in China, Europe and the US: how have policies and innovation system activities co-evolved?”

  • McDowall, W., Ekins, P., Radosevic, S., and Zhang L-Y. 

  • (Forthcoming: Technology Analysis and Strategic Management)

This paper takes an innovation system approach to analysing the development of wind energy in three jurisdictions: the European Union, USA and China. The paper builds on and extends previous innovation system studies on wind in two ways. First, it focuses on the interactions over time between policy and innovation system dynamics, in order to highlight lessons for low-carbon policymaking. Second, it extends the analysis from the formative and growth phases of the innovation system to the globalisation and transfer phase, in which mature technologies are transferred to new markets. The conclusions are: first, policies should go beyond ‘market pull’ and ‘technology push' and should take into account the institutional frameworks through which they are delivered; second, policies have been more successful where they prioritized long-term learning-oriented deployment rather than short-term efficiency; third, system failures exist at the transfer stage of development as well as during formative and growth phases.