This special issue seeks to bring together the fields of low-carbon development (LCD) and innovation studies. It contributes to the debate by addressing how the learning, innovation, and competence-building lens adds to the discussion about the development outcomes of climate change mitigation. The aim of this introductory article is fourfold. First, it discusses key advances in the debate about the role of innovation and competence building in LCD in developing countries. Second, it seeks to add to the debate by paying particular attention tothe heterogeneity of developing countries in terms of the context and innovative capacity for LCD. Third, it addresses the challenges to policy arising from such differentiated starting points. Finally, it sets forth the insights from the articles in this issue and the implications for future research.