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UK-China Networks of Low Carbon Innovation

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Tackling climate change is demanding international collaboration in innovation, yet there are significant constraints on such collaborations. This project is examining low carbon partnerships between the UK and China to identify the factors that promote and impede their success and the capacity for "disruptive" innovation on a global scale. The anthropogenic rise of global temperatures is now an imminent and grave danger. Yet as the problem of global scope, it is equally clear that action must be genuinely global. Such global coordination, however, demands a climate of international cooperation and collaboration, i.e. a broadly "cosmopolitan" context in which efforts are optimally balanced between the demands of the global totality and local/national needs. In the age of "globalisation" major trends support the emergence of this cosmopolitan order. But there are also significant social forces driving in the very opposite direction. In particular, the global political economy is entering a period of turbulence and transition. And the potential for an isolationist backlash, sinking any possibility of tackling climate change, is large. Avoiding this scenario demands understanding current social trends and the conditions needed for movement in the other direction. One issue in particular is the point of convergence for many of these trends, so that analysis of it is likely to yield important insights. This issue is international collaborations with China in "low carbon" innovation.

First, as the "engine" of current economic growth, innovation must play a crucial role in remodelling the economy, though this "disruptive" innovation will also involve social and policy innovation. Secondly, the rise of China is undoubtedly the biggest transition in the global economy. But China's industrial and vehicle emissions have risen commensurately. Yet this growth has raised some 200 million people out of poverty and China's political stability is inextricably tied to its continuation. China is thus increasingly a crucial part of the global problem... and thus a central element of any global solution. China's innovation capabilities are rapidly improving but there remain some major weaknesses. If China is to "leapfrog" to a sustainable economy, then, international collaboration will be essential. These collaborations, however, face significant constraints, from both the global trends discussed above and conditions within China and the UK/EU, along with the differences and tensions between the "civic epistemologies" of these partners. This project is examining these conditions, and thereby engaging with recent rich theoretical debates about cosmopolitanism, as well as work between innovation policy and science & technology studies that is supplementing research on the scale and speed of innovation with reflections on its direction, purposes and expected outcomes.


The project is organizing a number of workshops and conferences:

'Risk, Finance & Modernity: East and West' to be held in Shanghai, September 2009, organized with Wang Xiaming (Shanghai University), Scott Lash (Goldsmiths) and John Driffill (Birkbeck). Speakers include Ulrich Beck (LSE and Munich), Gilles St Paul (USS Toulouse), Wang Hui (Tsinghua) and Xu Chenggang (LSE). For more information please see the workshop website:www.worldeconomyandfinance.org/shanghai2009/index.html

'China-UK Workshop on Chinese Low-Carbon Innovation' to be held in Hangzhou, November 2009, organized with Zhejiang University and funded by BIS (the UK Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills). Speakers include Rebecca Willis (Sustainable Development Commission), David Vincent (Carbon Trust) and ZHENG Ping (WWF China). For more information please see: http://www.lums.lancs.ac.uk/lowcarbonchina


Our current Working Paper, 'China-EU Innovation Networks towards a Low Carbon Society' (March 2008), is available at: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/doc_library/ias/china_eu_Framing_Paper_Brief_2008.pdf

Urry, J. (2010) 'Sociology and Climate Change', The Sociological Review 58(1): 84-100.

Tyfield, D. & J. Wilsdon (2010) 'Low Carbon China: the Role of International Collaboration' in S. Yao, B. Wu, D. Sutherland and S. Morgan, Sustainable Reform and Development in Post-Olympic China, London: Routledge. (Previous version available as Tyfield, D. & J. Wilsdon (2009) 'Low Carbon China: Disruptive Innovation and the Role of International Collaboration', China Policy Institute Discussion Paper 41, Nottingham University, available at: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/shared/shared_cpi/documents/discussion_papers/Discussion_41_Tyfield_Low_Carbon_China.pdf)

Tyfield, D. & J. Urry (2009) 'Cosmopolitan China? Lessons from International Collaboration in Low-Carbon Innovation', British Journal of Sociology, 60(4): 793-812. (Copies are available by email request to d.tyfield@lancaster.ac.uk )

Tyfield, D., Y.G. Zhu & J.H. Cao (2009) 'The Importance of the "International Collaboration Dividend" - the Case of China', Science & Public Policy, 36(9): 723-735. (Copies are available by email request to d.tyfield@lancaster.ac.uk)

Urry, J. (2009) 'What happens "after the car"?', Policy Network, 17 November. Available at: http://www.policy-network.net/publications/publications.aspx?id=3390

Urry, J. (2008) 'Climate change, travel and complex futures', British Journal of Sociology 59(2): 261-279. Available at: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/urry08bjs

Urry, J. (2008) 'Governance, flows and the end of the car system?', Global Environmental Change. Available at: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/urry08gec

Tyfield, D. (November 2008) "Collaboration not Confrontation: low carbon China and the role of international collaboration", China Britain Business Review: available at http://www.cbbc.org/the_review/features/3.html

Report on Presentation by David Tyfield to the Department of Science, Technology & Society, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 23 April 2008, in Science Times (in Chinese): http://www.sciencenet.cn/dz/dznews_photo.aspx?id=3653

Report on Presentation by David Tyfield to the Beijing Energy & Environment Roundtable, 29 October 2008, in Beijing Science & Technology Report (in Chinese), available at: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/Beijing_S&T_Article. For a full report in English of this presentation, see: http://greenleapforward.com/2008/11/03/david-tyfield-on-international-collaboration-for-low-carbon-innovation-part-1-of-2/

Wilsdon, J. (September 2007) "China can lead the world in innovation system", China Daily: available at http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2007-09/11/content_6096352.htm

Presentations and Podcasts

Presentations regarding the project have included:

Tyfield, D. (2010) 'Game-Changing China: Lessons from China about Disruptive Low Carbon Innovation', SPRU Seminar Series, Sussex University, 22nd April 2010 & UK-China Innovation for Sustainability & Equitable Development, STEPS Centre, Sussex University & SPPM, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 19th March 2010: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/gamechangingchina.

Tyfield, D. (2010) 'Low Carbon Agriculture: Systems Transitions & Disruptive Innovations', RCUK China-UK International Workshop on Food Security, Lancaster University & China Agricultural University, Beijing, 10th March 2010: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/lowcarbonagri2010

Urry, J. (2010) 'Innovating Low Carbon Futures' at Royal Holloway, Geography Department Seminar Series, March 2010.

Tyfield. D. (2009) 'Disruptive Low Carbon Innovation in China: A Major Opportunity for China and the World' at China-UK Workshop on Disruptive Low Carbon Innovation in China, Hangzhou, 21st November 2009: http://www.lums.lancs.ac.uk/research/centres/ChinaCentre/lowcarbonchina/workshop-presentations/

Tyfield, D. (2009) 'Financing Low Carbon China' at Working with China on Sustainable Growth - The Climate Change, Environment, Energy Nexus, Wilton Park, 9th October 2009: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/WiltonPark

Tyfield, D. (2009) 'China, Low Carbon and Global Social Change' at Risk, Finance and Modernization: East and West, Shanghai, 29th September 2009: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/Shanghai09

David Tyfield in conversation with Paul French for Ethical Corporation Magazine (September 2009): http://www.ethicalcorp.com/content.asp?ContentID=6605

Tyfield, D. (2009) 'The Atlas of Ideas: Towards Cosmopolitan Innovation' at the INNO-Views Policy Workshop on Emerging Economies (BRICs) and Innovation: Implications for Innovation Policies in Europe, Delegation to the EU of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Brussels, July 8th/9th 2009: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/INNOViews; see also http://www.aimresearch.org/news/46/15/UK-China-Networks-of-Low-Carbon-Innovation

Tyfield, D. (2009) 'Greening China's Cars: How can International Collaboration be Harnessed?' at the China Policy Institute Seminar Series, Nottingham University, 24th February 2009: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/GreeningChinasCars

Urry, J. (2008) 'Innovation, Systems and Synchronisation', at the AIM Fellows Meeting, Imperial College, London, 6th November 2008.

Tyfield, D. (2008) 'Low Carbon China: the Role of International Collaboration' at the Inaugural Conference of the International Forum of Contemporary Chinese Studies, Post-Olympic China: Globalization and Sustainable Development after Three Decades of Reform, Nottingham University, 21st-23rd November 2008.

Urry. J. (2008) 'Sociology and Climate Change', Plenary Lecture at the Inaugural Conference of the International Sociological Association, Barcelona, Spain, 9th September 2008.

Tyfield, D. (2008) 'China-EU Networks of Low Carbon Innovation', presented at various universities around China, including Tsinghua University, Beijing; University of Science & Technology of China, Hefei; and Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/LCINetworks

Wilsdon, J. (2008) 'The New Geography of Science and Soft Power', Inaugural Pujiang Innovation Forum, Shanghai, China.

Tyfield, D. (2008) 'Low Carbon Innovation in China: Prospects, Politics & Partnerships', at the Demos workshop on New Perspectives on Chinese Innovation, NESTA, London, 21st February 2008.

Tyfield, D. and J. Wilsdon (2007) 'The Era of Zizhu Chuangxin? Contemporary Discourses in China and their Impact on National and International Innovation Policy', at the Lancaster Linguistics Workshop on New Discourses in Contemporary China, Lancaster University, 20th September 2007.

Wilsdon, J. (2007) 'Between Techno-Nationalism and Cosmopolitan Innovation: Ethics and Sustainability as Factors in China-UK Scientific Collaboration', at the Joint Conference of the OECD and Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of China, Beijing, China, 27th August 2007.


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Effective start/end date1/07/0730/04/10