An international agreement to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions need not be fixated on targets for regulating greenhouse gas emissions—an end-of-pipe approach—but could shift focus to an agreement that incentivizes a shift to low-carbon development pathways. Investment targets for innovation and diffusion of low-carbon energy technologies can form the basis for such new approach for a future UN climate change agreement. It is a viable alternative to the cap-and-trade approach, which shows few signs of being able trigger a fundamental transformation of the global energy system. The current pace of innovation is insufficient to secure globally shared energy and environmental goals. An international agreement could provide a push for research, development, demonstration and deployment (RDD & D) by setting an investment target. To garner developing country support such an agreement could distribute responsibilities, for example, based on countries’ ability to invest, capacity for innovation and need for energy modernization.
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