“We’ll need innovation in more than just clean technologies to achieve a low-emissions economy”
“The strong emphasis on innovation in the final Productivity Commission’s report ‘Low-emissions economy’ released today
is welcomed”, says National Energy Research Institute (NERI) Chair, Associate Professor Janet Stephenson, “however we’ll
need innovation in more than just clean technologies to achieve a low-emissions economy.”
“The report has a chapter on the complexity of the transitions required and the human side of adjustments, but views the
response mainly in terms of the quality of public policy and the adaptability of institutions. Its chapter on innovation
is limited to new clean technologies.
“All of this will be absolutely essential, but New Zealand has the capability to do even better than that. The speed and
cost of change is strongly influenced by the preferences and actions of people, organisations and businesses, in many
cases more so than the availability of new technologies and their price.
“The report reminds that we haven’t always been good at these kinds of adjustments, and we need to find new and
innovative ways to improve on this.
“Innovation in system-wide changes, including social and policy aspects, will be as important as the development of
clean technologies. As we said on the release of the Commission’s draft report ‘NERI considers there is also significant
potential in innovative behavioural solutions which are potentially much faster and lower cost to implement’. Research
is needed to underpin the change to lower-emissions behaviours in households and businesses, and to help avoid
“NERI is developing an applied directed energy research programme that covers innovation in both clean technologies and human factors. It is designed to help New Zealand best make the transition to a low emissions
economy, while at the same time continuing to open up new business opportunities and improve wellbeing.”
1. Associate Professor Janet Stephenson is Director of the Centre of Sustainability at the University of Otago as well
as Chair of NERI.
2. NERI’s members are research organisations and industry associations with a particular interest in energy research and
education. Its research members are Victoria University of Wellington, Auckland University of Technology, Scion,
University of Canterbury and the University of Otago, and its industry association members are the Bioenergy
Association, BusinessNZ Energy Council, and the Energy Management Association of New Zealand. See www.neri.org.nz