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Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development

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Continuation along current development pathways is not sustainable. Current technologies and production practices and the consumption patterns of modern societies are leading to global warming and ecological destruction. Continuing down this road will put humanity on a collision course with planet Earth. A massive shift towards green technologies and sustainable production practices will be needed in order to secure decent livelihoods for present and future generations of humankind. In Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development, renowned experts provide a variety of insights about feasible pathways for the required technological transformations. They spell out the behavioural and policy changes that would need to accompany the next green technological revolution, as well as the complexities of undoing locked in technologies and infrastructure in energy systems and agricultural value chains. They conclude that it can all be done, but not without much improved national innovation systems and drastic shifts in incentives and regulatory frameworks to induce the necessary shifts in public and private investment patterns. The macroeconomic costs, they contend, are quite affordable for societies worldwide.

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Clean energy for sustainable development

Modern civilizations are largely dependent on fossil fuel energy technologies, which make high-density urban settlements possible. While technological progress has eliminated many problems, it has also added new and often unexpected ones (Grübler, 1998; Diamond, 2005). Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) arising from the combustion of fossil fuels are the main cause of anthropogenic global warming. All energy technologies, whether they are fossil-based or not, consume resources, use land, and pollute air, water, and the atmosphere. Energy use has reached a scale at which planetary boundaries are being breached for a range of essential Earth-system processes, including in terms of global warming and biodiversity loss, which is likely to lead to catastrophic environmental change (Rockström et al., 2009). At the same time, there is urgent need to expand access to modern sources of energy to meet the needs of a large proportion of people in some of the poorest countries, who depend on traditional energy sources to the detriment of their health from air pollution.

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