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Invention and Transfer of Environmental Technologies

image of Invention and Transfer of Environmental Technologies

Inducing environmental innovation is a significant challenge to policy-makers. Efforts to design public policies that address these issues are motivated by the fact that innovations can allow for improved environmental quality at lower cost. However, the relationship between environmental policy and technological innovation remains an area in which empirical evidence is scant.  Increased attention should be paid to the design characteristics of public policies that are likely to affect the ‘type’ of innovation induced.  The work presented in this book is brought together in five substantive chapters: environmental policy design characteristics and their role in inducing innovation, the role of public policies (including multilateral agreements) in encouraging transfer of environmental technologies, followed by three ‘sectoral’ studies of innovation in alternative fuel vehicles, solid waste management and recycling, and green (sustainable) chemistry. While particular focus has been placed on the role of environmental policy in bringing about the innovation documented, it is recognised that other factors play a key role in inducing innovation which has positive environmental implications.     

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Innovation in Selected Areas of Green Chemistry

Improving the environmental performance of chemical processes and feedstocks has become an objective of the chemical industry and policymakers alike In this chapter, indicators of innovation in selected fields of green chemistry are proposed using patent data. Among these, biochemical fuel cells and green plastics are the two areas that have shown the most growth, while totally chlorine-free pulp and paper and biodegradable packaging are past their innovation peak. Patenting in industrial biotechnology has increased but no more than for the chemistry sector overall. Qualitative review of the role of public policy indicates that innovation in this area requires avoiding differentiated treatment of new versus existing chemicals. In addition, the frequent use of support measures (R&D support, public procurement, grants, and awards) means that policy makers face a difficult task in identifying particular technologies or activities to be supported in the face of imperfect information and uncertainty over future trajectories.

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