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
What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?

EIT Climate-KIC Chief Executive Officer Kirsten Dunlop addressed the...

What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?
In The News
Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change

Starting today, the seventh edition of the global green...

Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change
In The News
Why sustainable water management needs a systemic solution

Ensuring that fresh water is available, in a sustainable...

Why sustainable water management needs a systemic solution
In The News
Integrating nature with technology to strengthen climate adaptation

The European Commission released the new EU Climate Adaptation...

Integrating nature with technology to strengthen climate adaptation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC is a key player in helping Europe adapt to climate change

EIT Climate-KIC welcomes the new EU strategy on adaptation...

EIT Climate-KIC is a key player in helping Europe adapt to climate change
In The News
Edinburgh: building climate resilient infrastructure and communities

A labyrinth of cobblestone streets, dimly lit and presided...

Edinburgh: building climate resilient infrastructure and communities
In The News
Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neig...

EIT Climate-KIC is working with the city of Leuven...

Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neighbourhood
In The News
Improved urban parks increase communities’ climate resilience

Start Park, a project led by citizens from Florence,...

Improved urban parks increase communities’ climate resilience
In The News
New accelerator programme geared towards systemic change secures key partners

Following its Open Call, the New Accelerator programme has...

New accelerator programme geared towards systemic change secures key partners
In The News
New videogame builds climate awareness among players

Change Game, a videogame financed by EIT Climate-KIC and...

New videogame builds climate awareness among players
In The News
Organic and homemade food brought to the dining rooms of large corporations

Carlota Mateos and Juan Vila, co-founders of PlenEat have...

Organic and homemade food brought to the dining rooms of large corporations
In The News
Climeworks added to Microsoft’s climate portfolio

EIT Climate-KIC supported Climeworks, a carbon capture technology, is...

Climeworks added to Microsoft’s climate portfolio
In The News
Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs

The peer-to-peer learning platform for governments, Apolitical, included EIT...

Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs
In The News
New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture

Supported by EIT Climate-KIC and developed by its partner...

New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

EIT Climate-KIC will be taking part in the Climate...

EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021
In The News
Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards ...

A total of 140 teams of citizen finalists applied...

Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards 2020
In The News
Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation

Joe Biden will be sworn in today as 46th...

Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition

It is no secret that to tackle climate change...

EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition
In The News
New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction

This week marks the launch of NoMuWood.com, an EIT...

New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction
In The News
European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action

On Wednesday 16 December, the European Commission is launching...

European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action
In The News
“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melissa Capcha. Five years on...

“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris
In The News
“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Gopal Kumar Mohoto. Five years...

“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”
In The News
“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz. Five years...

“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”
In The News
COP26 gives Scotland “a platform to showcase… what’s possible”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Kit England. Five years on...

COP26 gives Scotland “a platform to showcase… what’s possible”
In The News
COP26 might be postponed but “climate action cannot wait”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melani Furlan. Five years on...

COP26 might be postponed but “climate action cannot wait”
In The News
A climate service for flood risk mapping in urban areas

The SaferPlaces project, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, has created...

A climate service for flood risk mapping in urban areas
In The News
Raising climate awareness through art in the Glasgow City Region

The Glasgow City Region uses arts as a means...

Raising climate awareness through art in the Glasgow City Region
In The News
Helping Europe achieve a circular economy transition

EIT Climate-KIC, EIT RawMaterials, EIT Digital, EIT Food, EIT...

Helping Europe achieve a circular economy transition
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and EASME host WCEF event on circular economy

The World Circular Economy Forum brings together business leaders,...

EIT Climate-KIC and EASME host WCEF event on circular economy
In The News
Citizens across globe eager to contribute to a post-COVID recovery

Over 4,500 citizens from around the world will join...

Citizens across globe eager to contribute to a post-COVID recovery