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Innovation, decarbonisation, and Europe’s economic transformation

Martin Porter, Executive Director of the i24c platform, published an op-ed in the September 2015 issue  of the World Commerce Review.

Innovation, decarbonisation, and Europe’s economic transformation

There is one constant in the workings of the global economy, it is change. What is perhaps novel is the pace and scale of the economic, technological, social and ecological changes that are now shaping the evolution of the global economy – and which should therefore preoccupy the thinking of the world’s political leaders. Whether from developed or developing economies, their response to these mega-trends must fashion a rapid transformation of the economy that harnesses the power of data and communications networks, materials technology, and process design and creativity. This will help to deliver economic growth at the same time as the dramatic resource efficiencies and deep decarbonisation so urgently needed, not to mention addressing growing social concerns around inequality.

The good news is that transformation is already starting to happen. From growth in renewables up-ending traditional energy utility business models, to 3D printing and the industrial internet revolutionising manufacturing, old economic models are under assault. Even the challenge posed by new entrants such as Uber, AirBnB and Spotify to the established transport, accommodation and music industries can be interpreted as signs that the low-carbon, eco-efficient, sharing economy is starting to erode its more polluting, wasteful and selfish version.

But there is a long way to go. This transformation needs greater urgency, direction and support if it is to succeed in tackling the challenge of climate change in particular, where the scale and time-frame of the necessary transition is especially clear. And disruptive innovations such as those above do not happen in a vacuum. They need market frameworks to be established by public actors with a view to enabling systemic innovation of technologies, business models and behaviours; and disruptive innovations will need public intervention to foster collaboration early on and socialise benefits downstream, as well as to incentivise private actors to compete and succeed through their enterprise.

Read the full op-ed here.