COP22: Countries Challenge the World to Advance Clean Energy

Meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, during the most recent United Nations climate change conference (COP22), Mission Innovation countries—a group of nations whose stated mission is to accelerate the pace of clean energy innovation—launched seven innovation challenges, designed as a global call to action for the research community, industry, and investors.

The challenges are:

  • Smart Grids
  • Off-Grid Access to Electricity
  • Carbon Capture
  • Sustainable Biofuels
  • Converting Sunlight (to create storable solar fuels)
  • Clean Energy Materials
  • Affordable Heating and Cooling of Buildings

“Collaboration is essential to advancing our global response to climate change and meeting our Mission Innovation goals,” said James Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “Canada will continue to invest in clean energy research and technology development and work with international partners to leverage efforts to accelerate energy technology innovation to advance the transition to a low-carbon global economy.”

After welcoming Finland and the Netherlands to the group during COP22, the Mission Innovation countries are now 23 members strong, including the three largest CO2 emitting countries in the world: China, the U.S., and India. Collectively, Mission Innovation countries account for more than 80% of the world’s public funding for energy research and development (R&D). Under the initiative, members have pledged to double their collective investments in energy R&D funding from about $15 billion annually to around $30 billion per year in 2021.

“Mission Innovation is one of the primary vehicles for driving forward clean energy innovation on a truly global scale,” said Nick Hurd, the UK’s Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry. “Individually we can achieve a lot, but together we can go faster and further. The Innovation Challenges give a clear focus for the collective efforts of public and private researchers, innovators and investors, which will help to accelerate innovation in these areas.”

The group recognizes that targeted technology advances could accelerate clean energy breakthroughs and reduce costs. The innovation challenges laid out this week are meant to complement other efforts already underway.

“Mission Innovation participants are signaling their understanding that our global energy economy is going to be a low-carbon energy economy,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Commitment to Mission Innovation means that these countries want to create jobs for their people, and also build more low-cost, broadly deployable clean energy options.”

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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