The term “development” is synonymous with economic growth. Theory and empirical evidence suggests decoupling energy use from economic growth is unlikely, implying an urgent need to decarbonise energy use and supply if developing nations are to be protected from the impacts of climate change. The political discourse on facilitating low carbon growth in developing countries has focused on technology transfer.
This paper argues that this will only underpin long term, low carbon growth if pursued in such a way as to facilitate the development of innovative capabilities within developing countries. This can best happen via international collaborations at the appropriate point along the research, development, demonstration and deployment spectrum, defined by existing levels of innovative capabilities within a country and its specific technological needs, which may vary regionally. Policy processes need to engage more actors in democratically inclusive and accountable fora to map out pathways to locally-relevant low carbon futures. These should not be merely technocratic (and technology-focussed), but should also include government, firms, civil society and users themselves.