CAREER: Policy for low-carbon technology investment: A comparative international perspective on emerging economy responses to climate change

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Policy for low-carbon technology investment: A comparative international perspective on emerging economy responses to climate change

Dr. Nathan E. Hultman
School of Public Policy
University of Maryland
December 2010

This research and teaching agenda will probe the motivations for emerging economy firms to invest and innovate in low-carbon technology. The central research question of this proposal is: How do firms in emerging economies respond to international and domestic energy policies when making low-carbon investment decisions? The research will evaluate the differences in deployment and international policy participation in solar photovoltaic and wind electricity generation in India, Brazil, South Africa, and South Korea. Through field research and interviews, the investigators will assess the major policy influences for low-carbon investment decisions in these countries and technologies. This work will contribute to scholarship on firm decisionmaking in response to energy policies. It can also potentially inform the approach of national and international low-carbon technology policy. Through courses and research experience, this proposal encourages students to link technology outcomes with policy drivers; to develop an informed, comparative international perspective on technology investments; and to engage with this important policy discourse in the US and internationally.
Reducing emissions that lead to climate change will be a paramount task in the 21st Century. Limiting global average surface temperature increases to approximately 2ºC would entail global emissions cuts of at least 50?85% by 2050. Moreover, over the next quarter-century, over 95% of the growth in global emissions will occur in the non-OECD economies. Investment flows in these countries into the energy sector will dwarf those in all other world regions: in just the period to 2030, energy investment in the largest emerging economies will constitute nearly 60% of the world total?over $10 trillion. Any policy that seeks to reduce global emissions must therefore be informed by the factors driving investment in these areas. Furthermore, climate policy is likely moving toward a regime of parallel domestic policies that are coordinated and reported internationally. Because of the complexity of this new interaction, understanding investment decisions in response to both domestic and international policies will be a key to evaluating a successful and sufficiently ambitious long-term international approach to transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

Principal Investigator: 
Nathan Hultman
University of Maryland College Park
PI Email Address:
NSF Organization: 
NSF Directorate: 
Start Date: 
Feb, 15 2011
Last Amendment Date: 
Apr, 23 2015
Expiration Date: 
Jan, 31 2018
Award Instrument: 
Continuing grant
Program Manager: 
Frederick M Kronz
Awarded Amount To Date: 
Organization Street: 
3112 LEE BLDG 7809 Regents Drive
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Organization State: 
Organization Zip: 
Organization Phone: 
Program Element Code(s): 
7603, 1253, 7626
Program Reference Code(s): 
1045, 1187, 7567, 8815