Learning out loud

First published in FORESIGHT.

Connecting the public, private and knowledge sectors so regions can innovate together and learn from each other at every stage of the process is vital to ramp up climate action and the energy transition, says Kirsten Dunlop Chief Executive Officer at Climate-KIC, a European knowledge and innovation community.

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of the world’s leading climate scientists advising governments, makes stark reading. We are not on track. Preventing catastrophic climate change and achieving the “well below 2°C” Paris climate agreement target requires a speed of decarbonisation at least six times faster than anything the global community has achieved so far. If we are too slow global temperature rises as fast as we need to, Europe must achieve net zero carbon emissions by the mid-2030s. A child born in Europe today will need to leave school living a net zero carbon life. This can only be achieved if regions and cities have the support and financial backing to innovate together and find solutions to decarbonise and develop sustainably.

The launch of the IPCC report coincided with the European Week of Cities and Regions, bringing together leaders from across Europe to “showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs”. Discussions around the 2021-2027 EU budget, the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework, formed the backdrop to the event, where it was noticeable that only 10 per cent of the programme was focused on climate, energy, environment or mobility.

The Commission foresees that in the next EU budget, 35 per cent of the Horizon Europe innovation budget and 25 per cent of the cohesion budget, aimed at boosting the economies of poorer EU member states, should be spent on delivering Europe’s commitments under the Paris agreement. EIT Climate-KIC and our 350 strong partnership would argue for a much more ambitious provision if we are to break the cycle of underachievement to date.

The lack of focus on climate and energy at last week’s event also suggests most European cities and regions have not yet fully realised climate action as an opportunity to catalyse investment to meet climate and sustainable development goals. The global economy needs an estimated $26 trillion by 2030 if efforts to prevent the worst impacts of climate change are to be scaled up in time. If Europe is serious about this — and about achieving green and equitable pan-European economic development — cities and regions need support to turn climate challenges into opportunities.

Continuing to work through gradual, incremental changes will not be enough. We need a fundamental transformation of regional economic, social and financial systems to trigger exponential change in decarbonisation rates and strengthen climate resilience. This means leaps forward in energy efficiency, in the clean electrification of energy, transport and industry, in recycling rates, radical changes in how we use and design materials, and how we manage our forests, farmland and wetlands.

Lack of capacity

This is unfamiliar territory for many cities and regions, which often lack the policy, financial and implementation tools to translate ambition into action. Few have the capacity to encourage innovation since this tends to be a national, sectoral or corporate competence.

Climate action, so far, has neglected the regional context, with Europe’s governance structures prioritising European, member state or city action. Further, regional funding via the EU’s structural funds has tended to focus on the status quo in terms of energy supplies. There has also been little acknowledgement that central-eastern and southern Europe is most at risk from the impacts of climate change, yet most innovation and economic capacity is concentrated in northwestern Europe.

Cities have fared better in placing themselves closer to the centre of the climate debate. But much of this, and the harnessing of funds to act, has served larger cities. Most of Europe’s urban population, however, lives in smaller cities and towns co-existing in more complex regional geospatial, economic and social contexts.

Connecting the public, private and knowledge sectors across regions to innovate together in a trusted open context is vital to redress these imbalances. We are developing a pan-European network of start-up accelerators to support the creation of new businesses, to build innovation capacity and help translate the transition needs of cities and regions into demand-led challenges, which result in innovative solutions. Building on a Nordic Open Innovation pilot, EIT Climate-KIC this year extended its urban challenge to Sofia, Bulgaria which suffers from some of the poorest air quality in Europe. This led to a shared bike scheme in the city. Our Climathon, which we will host on 26-27 October, has evolved into a global movement of cities involving their citizens in solving climate challenges. This year it will focus on air pollution, the circular economy and sustainable mobility.

We believe that agile, multi-faceted open innovation will help regions move beyond linear, sector-level interventions and help leaders target the right leverage points to decarbonise whole systems and make them more resilient. We want to bring together policy, finance and implementation communities to create conditions locally to develop portfolios of initiatives that can be developed, tested and modified in a design-led experimental circular, rather than sequential, fashion.

No one organisation or country has the resources to meet the climate challenge alone. We expect that future EU budgets will acknowledge this and reward new ways of working where we learn out loud — where new technologies, business models, policy and funding experiments are available for others to see and learn from at all stages of their development, and that the best are scaled up across Europe as fast as possible.

 
Location
Related Goal
Goal 12: Foster bankable green assets in cities
Articles you may be interested in
In Detail
Municipality-led circular economy case studies from EIT Climate-KIC and part...

How can cities create prosperity for expanding populations whose rates of consumption are increasing, while strengthening the systemic change that supports waste and resource management?...

Municipality-led circular economy case studies from EIT Climate-KIC and partners
In Detail
Transformative change through innovation: An analysis of the role of innovat...

One of the areas with significant potential to reduce carbon emissions is the energy sector, including the transition away from coal. It is, and...

Transformative change through innovation: An analysis of the role of innovation in five transition regions
In The News
COP24 report: The vital role of land use in climate mitigation

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, key...

COP24 report: The vital role of land use in climate mitigation
In The News
COP24: Distributed ledger technology could help enact Paris Agreement

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, key...

COP24: Distributed ledger technology could help enact Paris Agreement
Opinion
System innovation is needed to help regions shift to a low-carbon economy
System innovation is needed to help regions shift to a low-carbon economy
In The News
COP24: Social innovation to drive just transition of coal regions

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, key...

COP24: Social innovation to drive just transition of coal regions
In Detail
DLT for climate action assessment

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed a myriad of milestones that have put the vision of a prosperous, climate-resilient society on...

DLT for climate action assessment
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s ConnectedClusters launches at EUROCITIES

EIT Climate-KIC’s ConnectedClusters project—which aims to accelerate innovation clusters...

EIT Climate-KIC’s ConnectedClusters launches at EUROCITIES
Opinion
St. Patrick is on a Mission – #MissionFinance 1.5 C
Sandra Vlašić, Partnerships, Resources and Stories Terra Hub
St. Patrick is on a Mission – #MissionFinance 1.5 C
In our community
EIT Climate-KIC to showcase its top 30 cleantech startups during Slush 2018
EIT Climate-KIC to showcase its top 30 cleantech startups during Slush 2018
In The News
How to unlock the finance needed for integrated landscape approaches

Why integrated landscape approaches matter and how to unlock...

How to unlock the finance needed for integrated landscape approaches
In The News
Regional Innovation Scheme start-ups showcase cleantech achievements supported...

Last month (October 2018) in Vienna, Austria, 32 start-ups...

Regional Innovation Scheme start-ups showcase cleantech achievements supported by EIT Climate-KIC
In The News
City Finance Lab explores new advisory services to catalyse investment in sust...

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, Climate...

City Finance Lab explores new advisory services to catalyse investment in sustainable cities
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC responds to consultation on Long-Term Strategy for EU GHG emis...

As an active member of the community working to...

EIT Climate-KIC responds to consultation on Long-Term Strategy for EU GHG emissions reduction
Opinion
Distributed ledger technologies are here to stay
Dr. Harald Rauter Regional Innovation Lead, Climate-KIC
Distributed ledger technologies are here to stay
In The News
Search for 100 1.5C-compatible investments launched

The EU-backed Mission Innovation initiative has launched a framework...

Search for 100 1.5C-compatible investments launched
In The News
Can self-reporting be effective for investors?

Most climate and ESG data is self-reported – can...

Can self-reporting be effective for investors?
In The News
Risky business: Why 1.5C-aligned strategies are key to preserving capital

Decision-makers with responsibility for capital need to make bold,...

Risky business: Why 1.5C-aligned strategies are key to preserving capital
In The News
No alternative: Making sustainable infrastructure the only option

Only a fraction of global climate finance is reaching...

No alternative: Making sustainable infrastructure the only option
In The News
Could ambitious financial regulation be a key driver of climate action?

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, Climate...

Could ambitious financial regulation be a key driver of climate action?
In The News
Bridging the climate adaptation investment gap

Financing climate adaptation took centre-stage at Day 2 of...

Bridging the climate adaptation investment gap
In Detail
Techno-economic assessment and life cycle assessment guidelines for CO2 util...

CO2 utilisation technologies, also known as carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) or CO2 re-use, capture CO2 and convert it into new products or services....

Techno-economic assessment and life cycle assessment guidelines for CO2 utilisation
In The News
Re-Industrialise launches at the European Week of Cities and Regions

EIT Climate-KIC and partners recently launched the Re-Industrialise programme,...

Re-Industrialise launches at the European Week of Cities and Regions
In Detail
Reframing our current approach to urban transformations

EIT Climate-KIC gathered the outputs and lessons-learned from an urban transformations community workshop in Malaga, which saw more than 100 city leaders and teams...

Reframing our current approach to urban transformations
Opinion
Reframing perspectives on climate change
Reframing perspectives on climate change
Opinion
Only 20 companies in the world provide 100 per cent greenhouse gas emissions disclosure – Are ...
Only 20 companies in the world provide 100 per cent greenhouse gas emissions disclosure – Are investors in the dark on climate risks?
In The News
Gaining a better understanding of climate risk

The roadblocks that stand in the way of companies...

Gaining a better understanding of climate risk
In The News
The power of persuasion: Great Debate changes audience’s mind on self-re...

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, Climate...

The power of persuasion: Great Debate changes audience’s mind on self-reporting
In The News
A masterclass on climate-related financial disclosure

If we want to keep on track with the...

A masterclass on climate-related financial disclosure
In The News
Transforming financial sector’s core value system may be essential to 1.5C

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, Climate...

Transforming financial sector’s core value system may be essential to 1.5C