Breakthrough Brands 2022:
How brands are accelerating action through Climate Tech
Departing from its predecessors Green Tech and Clean Tech, Climate Tech has arrived with a singular purpose in mind: groundbreaking innovation to solve the climate crisis.
Climate Tech’s momentum is building on all sides, beyond just the symbolism of successful brands like Tesla. Institutional investors are keen on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), one in five Fortune 500 companies have pledged to meet climate goals, and global governments and international organizations have responded to the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Driving these trends are consumers, who are more acutely aware of the toll a global crisis brings.
Although climate actors see the issue from different viewpoints, the conversation has become univocal—from climate change more broadly to a concrete, measurable, and actionable focus on decarbonization. The target? Net zero by 2050.
To get there, we’ll need massive investment in new technologies. In the past year, 14% of venture funding was focused on Climate Tech, and in the last decade the space has grown by 220%. This encompasses a wide range of industries from the supply chain to consumer technology, spanning sustainable mobility, energy efficiency, battery technology, agriculture, and carbon capture and storage.
We believe the revolution is beginning at the baseline: better measurement, or “carbon accounting.” Following the adage that “only what gets measured gets managed,” this year we’re featuring Arcadia, Pachama, Planet Labs, Watershed, and Doconomy—Climate Tech brands that are all tackling this problem from different angles.
Arcadia has scaled its API to connect the energy grid for more efficient use. Pachama is using AI to automate measurement of CO2 storage in forests, while Planet Labs is capturing high quality satellite imagery to track land use. Doconomy is coupling credit card spending to carbon usage, and Watershed is connecting all the dots to bring a carbon dashboard to progressive companies.
The push towards standardized measurement will allow for apples-to-apples comparison across industries and ultimately lead to globally agreed-upon carbon markets. Many financial leaders, like Goldman Sachs, believe this will have a cascading effect in the private sector and be the catalyst for change. Critics, on the other hand, aren’t persuaded that we’ll be able to reach a global consensus fast enough.
Whether change comes from above or below, the global or the local, the US population overwhelmingly believes that change will be driven by the private, not public sectors. Our research with Vox Media finds that a staggering 58% of US adults believe Elon Musk has more influence to change the world than politicians, scientists, or financial institutions.
One thing is certain: private industry understands the power of brand building. This new wave of innovators know that building consumer interest can create momentum and influence, even for B2B-centered solutions. To do so, they are bringing the human-centered levers of consumer tech—well-designed UX, education, ease, and transparency—to science-led solutions.
Decarbonizing the planet is the biggest challenge of our generation, and we have only just begun. Will VC’s have the patience to stick with these emerging technologies and see their returns ten or twenty years from now? Or will Climate Tech go bust like its predecessors Green Tech and Clean Tech?