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Mobilizing innovation policy in the pursuit of net zero emissions: An evolutionary perspective


  • Jan Fagerberg

    (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo)


Transforming the economy to a state consistent with net-zero emissions is a very demanding task. Extensive change, i.e., innovation, in the way energy is provided, distributed, and used across all parts of society will be required. An important question, discussed in this paper, is how policy – and particularly innovation policy - can contribute to mobilize innovation for this purpose. It is pointed out that while innovation solves problems (in response to challenges), it also creates novel opportunities that policymakers may exploit to further their aims. The analysis presented in the paper shows that a global green shift, centred on production and use of renewable energy, is - greatly helped by past policies in a few countries - already well underway, and it is argued that this may create very important opportunities for policy makers in their attempts to support (and speed up) the transition. It is concluded that for policy to succeed in its aims, two elements are essential, (1) a broadly supported vision or strategy for change, exploiting the opportunities offered by the global green shift, and (2) a set of projects – or missions – aimed at addressing specific challenges of relevance for the countries in question. However, for such projects or missions to be successful, relevant stakeholders – also outside national boarders – may need to be included, challenging received innovation policy governance.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan Fagerberg, 2023. "Mobilizing innovation policy in the pursuit of net zero emissions: An evolutionary perspective," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20230108, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tik:inowpp:20230108

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wouter Boon & Jakob Edler, 2018. "Demand, challenges, and innovation. Making sense of new trends in innovation policy," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(4), pages 435-447.
    2. Jakob Edler & Jan Fagerberg, 2017. "Innovation policy: what, why, and how," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(1), pages 2-23.
    3. Cantner, Uwe & Pyka, Andreas, 2001. "Classifying technology policy from an evolutionary perspective," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 759-775, May.
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