Breaking News
Get 40% Off 0
🔎 See NVDA's full ProTips for an instant risks or rewards Claim 40% OFF

Explainer-Can technology solve the global climate crisis?

Published Dec 01, 2023 11:04PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Silja Yraola, an employee of Icelandic startup Carbfix, enters the dome with injection well at its facility in Olfus, Iceland, November 21, 2023. Icelandic startup Carbfix is the world's first CO2 mineral storage operator, permanently sequeste
Add to/Remove from Watchlist
Add to Watchlist
Add Position

Position added successfully to:

Please name your holdings portfolio

By Timothy Gardner

(Reuters) - Governments and investors are pouring billions of dollars into emerging technologies to combat global warming in long-shot bets that entrepreneurship can help lead the way to a climate-friendly world.

As officials from nearly 200 countries seek to forge agreements at the U.N. COP28 climate summit in Dubai this month, they will also be considering deployment of the nascent technologies.

The amount invested worldwide by venture capital and private equity into climate technology startups - in projects ranging from carbon capture and green hydrogen, to food waste reduction and cleaning up heavy industry - totaled $490 billion this year, according to a report by accounting firm PwC.

While that's down 40% from 2022 as economic uncertainty, stubborn inflation and high interest rates bite, it marks a relatively healthy showing given the investments across all business sectors dropped 50% over the same period, PwC said.

Here are some of the investment trends:


The world emits around 37 billion metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide from fossil fuel and industry each year. One family of technologies, called carbon capture and storage, would tackle that by trapping those emissions before they reach the atmosphere, and storing them underground or using them to make products.

A big question, though, is whether it can work given the costs and the amount of energy required. The International Energy Agency, the West's energy watchdog, said in November that the oil and gas industry is relying excessively on carbon capture, and called the approach an implausible "illusion".

Even so, carbon removal is attracting loads of money.

The United States this year, for example, announced it would grant more than $1 billion to two carbon removal projects, in Texas and Louisiana, that would suck more than 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions per year from the sky using a carbon removal technique called direct air capture.


Fusion, can generate massive amounts of zero-emissions power by harnessing the energy produced from pushing atoms together, instead of splitting them apart. But the reaction is hard to produce, and harness any energy it generates to the grid.

Investments in fusion slipped this year, part of the broader trend in declining venture investment. International fusion companies raised about $1.4 billion in mostly private money according to the Fusion Industry Association, down from about $2.83 billion in new investment last year.

On the hopeful side for fusion, the number of companies getting investments rose to 43 from 33, spanning a dozen countries, according to the FIA, including the U.S. which has about 25 companies. Other countries pursuing fusion include Australia, China, Germany, Japan, and the UK.

John Kerry, President Joe Biden's climate envoy, is expected to announce at COP28 a global strategy in nuclear fusion.


Hydrogen is a fuel that can be made by electrolyzing water, and which burns clean. If it is produced using renewables like wind or solar power, as opposed to fossil fuel generated power, it is called green hydrogen. If it is produced with nuclear power, its called "pink" or "purple" hydrogen.

The U.S. is trying to kickstart clean hydrogen, and in October announced $7 billion in grants to seven "hydrogen hub" projects across the country. The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act also provides tax credits for hydrogen production.

Governments and companies think green hydrogen could be a way to clean up hard-to-decarbonize industries like steel and cement-making and other industrial manufacturing. But like carbon removal, it is expensive and energy intense, meaning it is unclear if it is doable at scale.

PwC said technologies like green hydrogen and reducing food waste have relatively high emissions reduction potential, but are receiving a small share of start-up investment. In 2023, green hydrogen got 3.9% of global climate-tech venture funding, while food waste got 0.7%, it said.


There are scores of other technologies in development that promise to be game-changers for the climate - if they survive. They include everything from lab-grown meat, to advanced batteries, to insects as a food source.

Among them, lab-grown meat has made some advancements this year. In June, U.S. regulators cleared the first sales of chicken grown from cells in a vat. The meat was served in small portions at high-end restaurants.

The industry says that if it manages to overcome high costs, challenges to scaling up production, and the 'ick-factor', it could revolutionize agriculture and eliminate the considerable emissions related to raising livestock.


Companies in the U.S. still get the most climate tech investment at around 49% of the global total, according to Deloitte, a professional services network.

But other countries have been eating into that share. Funding in China, for example, was 22% from 2020 to 2023, up from 2% in 2010 to 2014, while it has also increased in France, the UK and India and in other countries in Asia and Africa.

David Schatsky, a managing director at Deloitte, said investments in biofuels development has risen in Asia, while electric bike and motorcycle companies are doing well in Africa.

"Entrepreneurship taking hold outside of the developed world has the potential to help attract more capital to these regions if an ecosystem around climate-related technologies can arise," Schatsky said.


For daily comprehensive coverage on COP28 in your inbox, sign up for the Reuters Sustainable Switch (NYSE:SWCH) newsletter here.

Explainer-Can technology solve the global climate crisis?

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.
  • Any comment you publish, together with your profile, will be public on and may be indexed and available through third party search engines, such as Google.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (2)
Tom Saltzman
Tom Saltzman Dec 02, 2023 7:46AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
The Dumbest people to ever exist on this planet are now the ones in charge.
Japan Scenario
Japan Scenario Dec 02, 2023 12:32AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Long answer, no. Short answer YESSSS!!!
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email