A new paper released by Professor Ross Garnaut as part of his Climate Change Review for the Australian Government has called for increased public funding for innovation in low-emissions technologies under a new scheme to be administered by an independent authority.


The paper  ‘Low emissions technology and the innovation challenge’, argues that innovation and new technologies will make the transition to a carbon pricing regime faster and less costly.


“The introduction of a carbon price will deliver a structural shift in the economy as producers and consumers make and use goods, services and processes that generate lower emissions.


“A technological response will lower the cost of the structural shift. There will be opportunities for cost‑reducing innovation across all sectors of the economy: energy and electricity generation; energy efficiency; transport; urban planning and design; agriculture, forestry and biosequestration more generally; manufacturing; and mining.”


“The carbon price will make it more profitable for firms and industries to invest in research, development, demonstration and commercialisation of low-emissions technologies. Firms will be seeking new goods and services that release fewer emissions and ways of producing them that embody lower emissions. Firms will be encouraged to innovate to reduce emissions because they will make more money by doing so.”


Professor Garnaut said that with global public expenditure on research, development, demonstration and commercialisation of low-emissions technologies increasing in the aftermath of the Great Crash of 2008, Australia “should do its proportionate part as a developed country in the global innovation effort”.


He identified key areas for improvement as:

  • in basic research, focusing on areas where we have comparative advantage in research capacity and strong national interest in application;
  • in commercialisation, following business priorities backed by investment commitments; and
  • reducing other costs of innovation by expanding relevant high-level education and removing regulatory and legal barriers to new activities.


He proposed a package of measures to ensure the optimal level of innovation:

  • increasing support for public and private basic research;
  • market-led support for private demonstration and commercialisation;
  • the Low-Emissions Technology Commitment on total funding, leading to roughly a doubling of research, development and commercialisation expenditure to $2-3 billion per annum; and
  • strong and independent governance arrangements.


The scheme should be administered by an independent authority, taking important decisions on advice from independent expert bodies.


The full paper is available at http://www.garnautreview.org.au