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Export and patent specialization in low carbon technologies

The low-carbon technology sector is going through a period of disruptive innovation and strongly increased investment, which is likely to continue. Global investment in new renewable power is the largest area of electricity spending. The political momentum to combat climate change was reinforced in the Paris Agreement, when almost every country in the world agreed to aim for carbon neutrality in the second half of the century.

By: and Date: August 7, 2018 Topic: Energy & Climate

This contribution is a chapter of the Global Innovation Index 2018, co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

This chapter assesses the potential of countries to excel in technologies deemed essential for the low-carbon transition based on their export and technological specializations. Global trade and patenting patterns over the past two decades are analysed to uncover the persistence and current state of competitive advantages in the low-carbon sector.

Moreover, this chapter investigates countries’ potential to develop a specialization—in terms of both exports and patenting—in certain technologies, based on their strength in related sectors and developments in similar countries. The analysis relies on systematic evidence originating from the regional growth literature triggered by Hidalgo et al. (2007), which found that countries diversify into industries that are closely related to current export strengths.

The chapter explores global dynamics in low-carbon technologies and the persistence of export and technology specialization profiles. Subsequently, it analyses which countries currently specialize in the low-carbon technologies considered and which countries have the potential to develop a competitive edge in the future.

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