Climate technology and the path to decarbonisation
From pre-historic times with the discovery of fire and the invention of the wheel through to the modern era with the Internet, airplanes and nuclear energy, technological breakthroughs and revolutions have shaped the trajectory of civilisations and the relationship between humanity and the natural environment. The deployment of technologies has been both positive and detrimental: whilst people have used and continue to use technology to combat inequality and promote development, other uses (namely dominant fossil fuel-based technologies) have caused significant damage to global ecosystems and natural habitats, and triggered the increase of global temperatures, sea levels and weather-related disasters. If how we use technology is part of the problem when it comes to climate change, can it be part of adaptation, mitigation and resilience building.
Technology has been an integral part of climate policies and frameworks for decades. When the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was first established in 1992, provisions were included for technology as a means to achieve the aims of the Convention. The 2010 COP16 in Cancun establishedthe Technology Mechanism, whose aim is to facilitate the use and spread of climate technologies in developing countries. To date, the Mechanism – made up of three institutions – has supported over 1,000 projects worth up to $1 billion. The 2015 Paris Agreement includes a framework for technology development in relation to reaching the main goals of the agreement. The EU Commission has proposed the Net-Zero Industry Act, which focuses on scaling up climate technologies across the bloc.
The primary use of climate technology (also known as net-zero technology or green tech) is to combat climate change, strengthen the circular economy and achieve carbon neutrality. Far from being in the realm of possibility, various technologies are already being deployed in climate change hotspots. Norway was the first country to create a commercial carbon capture and storage project in 1996. It is also the world leader in renewable energy, with hydroelectricity being the country’s main source of power generation. Companies such as Tesla and BYD have popularised e-vehicles, with the EV market set to continue to grow. For emerging technologies, both private and public sectors have poured investments into research, testing and expansion. These include negative emissions technologies such as direct air capture, which involves capturing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. There is also increased interest in fog harvesting. Already in use in Peru, Morocco and China, fog harvesting could become an important part of water conservation. Climate-adjacent innovations such as climate bonds and blockchain use technology to finance sustainable practices and mitigation efforts.
Barriers still exist. To recognise the full potential of climate technology, companies and innovators in the field require both financial and structural support to scale up the technologies and concepts. The integration of climate technologies into existing infrastructure – infrastructure created with a carbon-based economy and models of consumption in mind – is also a problem. In order to achieve a decarbonised world, the scalability and cost of climate technology need to be reframed as opportunities for growth. Climate tech is already proving to be profitable: a McKinsey report estimates that could attract up to $2 trillion worth of investment by 2025.
Ghazan Global remains committed to supporting innovation for climate action. Through our investments in bioplastics, fintech and automation, we aim to contribute to the effort to decarbonise the global economy and transition to carbon-neutral systems.