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European clean energy start-ups are brimming with new ideas, but they could use help to get products to market faster, panellists told a Friends of Europe Café Crossfire debate on 20 June.

The theme is especially urgent after US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement, provoking fears of a reduction in America’s contribution to clean energy innovation. In reaction, other parts of the world appear willing to fill the void. The European Union and China renewed their commitments to further foster the clean energy revolution at this year’s Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial meetings in Beijing. That high-level political will could drive ambitious, real-world clean energy policies and actions.

Private companies will be major drivers of the low-carbon future. Advances that can help bring down barriers to the successful and sustainable deployment of renewables include major technological innovations, new business strategies, changes in social behaviour and new options for energy storage. To accelerate this, the private sector will need a business environment in which they can forge ahead, meaning active support from government.

“Engagement with the private sector is going to be important,” said Patrick Child, European Commission Deputy Director-General for Research and Innovation and Chair of the Mission Innovation Steering Committee. “Increasingly, the European Union will be expected to continue to take a global lead in the debate on climate change.”

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