Lighting the Way: Toward a Sustainable Energy Future

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  • 5.9 Conclusion

    The science and technology community—together with the general public—has a critical role to play in advancing sustainable energy solutions and must be effectively engaged.

    As noted repeatedly in the foregoing recommendations, the energy challenges of this century and beyond demand sustained progress in developing, demonstrating, and deploying new and improved energy technologies. These advances will need to come from the S&T community, motivated and supported by appropriate policies, incentives, and market drivers.


      Provide increased funding for public investments in sustainable energy research and development, along with incentives and market signals to promote increased private-sector investments.
      Effect greater coordination of technology efforts internationally, along with efforts to focus universities and research institutions on the sustainability challenge.
      Conduct rigorous analysis and scenario development to identify possible combinations of energy resources and end-use and supply technologies that have the potential to simultaneously address the multiple sustainability challenges linked to energy.
      Stimulate efforts to identify and assess specific changes in institutions, regulations, market incentives, and policy that would most effectively advance sustainable energy solutions.
      Create an increased focus on specifically energy-relevant awareness, education, and training across all professional fields with a role to play in the sustainable energy transition.
      Initiate concerted efforts to inform and educate the public about important aspects of the sustainable energy challenge, such as the connection between current patterns of energy production and use and critical environmental and security risks.
      Begin enhanced data collection efforts to support better decision-making in important policy areas that are currently characterized by a lack of reliable information (large cities in many developing countries, for example, lack the basic data needed to plan effectively for transportation needs).

    Needed actions

      The S&T community must strive for better international coordination of energy research and development efforts, partly in collaboration with the private sector. It should seek to articulate a focused, collaborative agenda aimed at addressing key obstacles to a sustainable energy future.
      Governments (and inter-governmental organizations) must make more public funding available to not only boost the existing contribution from the S&T community but also to attract more scientists and engineers to working on sustainable energy problems.
      The why and how of energy research and development should be made transparent to the general public to build support for the significant and sustained investments that will be needed to address long-term sustainability needs.
      The S&T community itself, inter-governmental organizations, governments, NGOs, the media and—to a lesser extent—the private sector, should be actively engaged in educating the public about the need for these investments.