In these weeks of post-Copenhagen assessment, everyone is trying to figure out how best to proceed—and one of the most interesting approaches (even if it doesn’t sound so interesting at first) comes from colleagues who are pushing hard for more research and development funding for renewable technology, a so-called ‘innovation agenda.’

To understand its importance, remember how much attention campaigners have paid to raising the price of fossil fuel, with a tax or a cap or some other way to make coal, gas, and oil more expensive. That work continues—but it’s obviously not easy, as events in Denmark and in the US Senate make clear. We’re still, by many accounts, going far too slowly.

You could also work from the other direction: making renewable energy so cheap that it supplants the dirty stuff almost automatically. The Breakthrough Institute and the Truman National Security Project earlier this month convened a collection of groups in Washington, USA to discuss how to build support for public funding for more aggressive research and development spending. The participants included, significantly, Google, perhaps the greatest innovation company on the planet (the 350 campaign anyway seems to run on Gmail, Googledocs, and GoogleEarth), which for several years has been working on a project they call RE<C. They’re hoping for the kind of funding that will put hundreds of thousands of scientists hard at work on the project, and hoping too that it will produce quantum leaps, not incremental improvements, in the efficiency of renewables. Imagine some new idea that suddenly made a solar panel twice as efficient—all our work would get considerably easier. (And in the spirit of cooperation, it's nice to see that Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been making much the same point about technology recently–they may not agree about web browsers, but they're on the same page when it comes to energy). You can see solar panels at the Googleplex headquarters in the picture above.

The conference in Washington was mostly for Americans, but this same kind of work is underway elsewhere. Happily, the same kind of thinking is going on in China and India. In fact, you’ll be hearing more from us as the spring goes on about some plans to spur friendly competition at the grassroots level in the Great Powers.

The other good news is that we can do all of this work at once: make fossil fuel more expensive and make green energy cheaper. We can get started with green energy already, obviously, but the better the technology gets, the easier the transition. 350 is a very tough target—it demands that we follow every lead we can think of.