What would it take to scale critical climate technologies?

climate technologies decarbonization innovation capture emissions

The deployment of mature climate technologies that avoid, reduce, or capture emissions and can replace carbon-intensive incumbent technologies has accelerated significantly in the past decade, often outpacing expectations. Scaling of these climate technologies is now more critical than ever as countries seek to reach climate goals of limiting global warming to well under 2°C above preindustrial levels, a goal that 196 nations committed to in the legally binding 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

Our analysis suggests that, collectively, 12 categories of climate technologies could potentially reduce as much as 90 percent of total man-made greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions if deployed at scale.1 The interdependency among these technologies is very high, meaning that they must scale together. These technologies will need not only to be proven technically (as many already have) but also to become commercially viable. And, critically, the search for sustainable tech solutions to drive decarbonization will need to be pursued in parallel with other goals such as affordability and energy security.2

The maturity levels of the 12 technology categories are uneven: only 10 percent are commercially competitive, while a further 45 percent are commercially available but will require further cost reductions through innovation and scale-up to become competitive. The remainder hold great promise but are in earlier stages. The highest priority is therefore identifying, understanding, and prioritizing technical and commercial scaling mechanisms.

This article highlights the potential of these 12 technology categories along with their different maturity levels, the key scaling mechanisms, and some paths to overcoming scaling challenges. To spur innovation and reduce costs, our analysis suggests that climate tech investments would need to grow by about 10 percent each year and reach approximately $2 trillion by 2030, equivalent to about 1 percent to 2 percent of global GDP.3

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