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Climate policy should promote technology development, not set emissions targets, say Isabel Galiana and Christopher Green.

Governments should replace emissions targets with credible long-term commitments to invest in energy research and development (R&D), they suggest.

Stabilising the climate requires ready-to-deploy, scalable, low-carbon technologies that will only be created through basic and applied research and development (R&D), as well as testing and demonstration projects.

Tackling climate change by fostering a global technology 'race' sidesteps many of the problems associated with emission-reduction targets, say the authors.

And it should appeal to developing countries such as Brazil, China and India because it asks for scientific knowledge sharing rather than development sacrifices.

The race could be financed by a slowly rising carbon price, say the authors. They suggest starting with a price of US$5 per tonne of emitted carbon dioxide, which would raise global funds of US$150 billion per year. This price should rise gradually — doubling every ten years — and the money raised placed in dedicated trust funds to be distributed to R&D projects by organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Countries that decide not to participate in R&D could use the funds to purchase developed technologies.

Link to full article in Nature