New “Apollo” programme could make the two degrees climate target $4 trillion cheaper

Good news for the 195 governments that have signed up to the Paris Agreement: a new global “Apollo” programme — named after the space project that put the first humans on the moon in 1969 — could reduce the cost of meeting the two degrees climate target by up to $4 trillion.

New research published by Frontier Economics and Climate-KIC partner the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London has assessed the costs and benefits associated with increasing global investment in low carbon innovation. The outcome? A strong economic case for a new Apollo programme.

Just as with the Apollo space missions of the 1960s, great scientific minds could be assembled to find a solution to one of the biggest challenges we face, backed by strong government funding. The Global Apollo Programme — proposed earlier this year by a group of seven prominent economists and scientists —  aims to deliver a step change in the research, development and demonstration of renewable energy.

The programme would reduce the cost of the technologies that can help produce clean energy cheaply. Governments who join the programme would devote at least 0.02% of GDP to public expenditure on renewables innovation over a 10-year period starting in 2016.

The new study now finds that the programme could reduce the cost of meeting a two degrees climate target by $0.7-4.0 trillion out to 2040, and that there is a strong economic case for increasing global spending on low carbon innovation.

A coalition of 20 countries already signed up to “Mission Innovation” earlier this month at the UN climate talks in Paris, pledging to double their expenditure on clean energy innovation over the next 5 years.

One of the people backing the new Apollo project is David Attenborough, the renowned British documentary maker an naturalist. Attenborough was at the UN climate change summit to advocate the project.

75 per cent drop in solar costs

The analysis suggests that the increased RD&D spending under the Apollo programme has the potential, under plausible but relatively optimistic assumptions, to help reduce the costs of electricity generated by solar to below the costs of electricity from coal by 2025. This would entail a fall in the costs of solar photovoltaics of 75 per cent from today’s levels.

Even under more conservative assumptions, the study finds significant reductions in the cost of solar photovoltaics.

Major global benefits would be delivered by the programme, under all scenarios. Even in the absence of any additional climate change policy, the programme has the potential to have a transformational impact on the energy sector.

In the scenario where the costs of solar falls below the costs of coal, solar photovoltaics could provide 26 per cent of global electricity generation by 2040, saving 10 per cent of total global emissions.

True savings expected to be larger

The positive impact in a world where global governments sign up to a two degrees climate target is likely to be extremely significant.

These costs savings of up to $4 trillion could represent a minimum, the study suggests as it does not take into account the wider benefits of innovation, such as impacts on productivity and spillovers to other sectors.

Also not included in the cost benefit study are the wider benefits associated with an increase in renewables such as the health benefits related to an improvement in air quality, and the social and economic benefits that may come with connecting more off-grid properties.

Strong economic case for new Apollo programme

Because of the market failures associated with innovation and climate change, this type of research and development is not likely to happen without government intervention, such as the proposed Global Apollo Program.

Although the potential benefits of increasing research and development spending on renewables could be large, private spending is low. This is because market failures relating to innovation in low carbon energy are limiting this investment.

Coordinated action between international governments has the potential to most effectively overcome these market failures. While there is uncertainty over the scale of cost reduction, given the potential size of the benefits, there is a strong economic case for implementing the Global Apollo Programme.

 
Location
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
Five EIT Climate-KIC startups announced as Cleantech Innovate finalists

Five EIT Climate-KIC supported startups are among the 30...

Five EIT Climate-KIC startups announced as Cleantech Innovate finalists
In The News
International effort launched to determine best CO2 capture & utilisation ...

Economic and environmental guidelines will support new industries and...

International effort launched to determine best CO2 capture & utilisation technologies
In Detail
New report cements wood as the future of construction

In a new report, 25 examples of using wood in construction showcase that reducing the carbon footprint of our buildings is not only possible,...

New report cements wood as the future of construction
In The News
Transatlantic bridge for European innovation: EIT Community opens its first Hu...

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) opened...

Transatlantic bridge for European innovation: EIT Community opens its first Hub in Silicon Valley
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supported Beyond Ratings registered as credit rating agency by...

EIT Climate-KIC supported firm Beyond Ratings, a financial services...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Beyond Ratings registered as credit rating agency by European Securities and Markets Authority
In our community
Interview with Nico Wolf, CFO, Endless Energy – Winner of the EIT Climate-...
Interview with Nico Wolf, CFO, Endless Energy – Winner of the EIT Climate-KIC Finance Incubator Competition
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supported Ombrea raises €1 million to commercialise its smar...

EIT Climate-KIC supported start-up Ombrea, which offers a tool...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Ombrea raises €1 million to commercialise its smart agriculture system
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC announces partnership with Silicon Valley innovation hub

EIT Climate-KIC has announced its partnership with cleantech innovation...

EIT Climate-KIC announces partnership with Silicon Valley innovation hub
In The News
Eight EIT Climate-KIC innovators in prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe List...

In the last four years, the EIT Community has...

Eight EIT Climate-KIC innovators in prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe List 2019
In The News
Bill Gates lists EIT Climate-KIC’s Climeworks on 2019 Breakthrough Techn...

Bill Gates was invited to be the first guest...

Bill Gates lists EIT Climate-KIC’s Climeworks on 2019 Breakthrough Technologies list
Innovation Spotlight
AI and robotics could revolutionise municipal waste sorting

Ferrovial, a leading infrastructure operators and municipal services company, and EIT Climate-KIC partner, is collaborating with start-up...

AI and robotics could revolutionise municipal waste sorting
In Detail
Accelerating the transition to a circular economy

A new report, “Accelerating the transition to a circular economy: Improving access to finance for circular economy projects,” provides key recommendations to drive increased...

Accelerating the transition to a circular economy
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches ‘Call to Action’

This week, EIT Climate-KIC launched its call for proposals....

EIT Climate-KIC launches ‘Call to Action’
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supported Ÿnsect raises €110 million, becoming global leade...

Ÿnsect announced yesterday that it has raised €110 million...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Ÿnsect raises €110 million, becoming global leader in alternative protein
Opinion
Policy: The circular designer’s secret weapon
Joe Iles & Simon Widmer Circulate News & The Circular Design Guide
Policy: The circular designer’s secret weapon
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supported Climetrics announces top ten European equity funds f...

Climetrics, the world’s first and only independent climate rating...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Climetrics announces top ten European equity funds for climate performance
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supported WINnERS secures over €1.5 million in funding

WINnERS, an agricultural supply chain de-risking service supported by...

EIT Climate-KIC supported WINnERS secures over €1.5 million in funding
In our community
Interview with Marian-Constantin Vasile, Trainer, EIT Climate-KIC
Interview with Marian-Constantin Vasile, Trainer, EIT Climate-KIC
In our community
Interview with Piotr Magnuszewski, Programme Leader, Centre for Systems Solu...
Travis Hendrix tbd
Interview with Piotr Magnuszewski, Programme Leader, Centre for Systems Solutions
Opinion
How the climate community breeds its own inaction
Dominic Hofstetter EIT Climate-KIC
How the climate community breeds its own inaction
Innovation Spotlight
Not your ordinary reusable bag: Plant trees & earn discounts while you s...

Remember a time when you’d carry your purchases home in a plastic bag? Neither can we. That’s...

Not your ordinary reusable bag: Plant trees & earn discounts while you shop with goodbag
In our community
Interview with Mike Asquith, Project Manager – Integrated Environmental As...
Interview with Mike Asquith, Project Manager – Integrated Environmental Assessment, European Environmental Agency
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches strategy for 2019-2022

EIT Climate-KIC, innovation community established and funded by the...

EIT Climate-KIC launches strategy for 2019-2022
Opinion
A systemic approach to innovation in land use and nature-based solutions
Daniel Zimmer Director Sustainable Land Use at EIT Climate-KIC
A systemic approach to innovation in land use and nature-based solutions
Opinion
How moderation could accelerate climate action
Dominic Hofstetter EIT Climate-KIC
How moderation could accelerate climate action
In The News
Close the circularity gap to avert catastrophic climate change, Davos told tod...

A new report by Circle Economy, supported by EIT...

Close the circularity gap to avert catastrophic climate change, Davos told today
In our community
Interview with Mia Dragovic Matosovic, Scientific Researcher, Institute for ...
Interview with Mia Dragovic Matosovic, Scientific Researcher, Institute for European Energy and Climate Policy
In our community
Interview with Charlotte Breen, from C40’s Business & Innovation Team
Interview with Charlotte Breen, from C40’s Business & Innovation Team
In The News
EU group invites feedback on sustainable finance definition

The Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (TEG) set...

EU group invites feedback on sustainable finance definition
In Detail
Municipality-led circular economy case studies from EIT Climate-KIC and part...

How can cities create prosperity for expanding populations whilst transitioning through systematic change to low-carbon economies? How can cities achieve continued prosperity whilst preserving...

Municipality-led circular economy case studies from EIT Climate-KIC and partners