At least ten times this week I’ve had a conversation with someone about what is included in Climate Tech. It’s easy for me to define it broadly: Technology that helps improve our climate.
That raises lots of questions. What technology? Helping how? What do you mean by improvement? And what is climate? This is a great topic, these are good questions and we should talk about it.
Another part of me doesn't want to define it at all. Leave it high level. Leave it to everyone to work out for themselves. Explore, fish, follow your passions and let 1,000 flowers bloom. This may sound way too vague and not at all focused (I know right?). Here is my rationale.
We have a lot of good technology to solve the climate problems (as Tony Seba et al point out here) but maybe they aren't enough. Given how late we've left the run despite 40 years of warnings, we need to push on all areas and multiple angles. Also, climate tech is going to touch everything, so to think it's only energy, food and transport is missing a huge opportunity for improvement. Plus, the core tech areas (energy, food, transport) need more innovation directly and in supporting areas around the core product.
Helping and Improving:
Helping and improving is hard and complex. There is lots of parts of getting to sustainability that we don't know how to do yet or even understand how to frame. My guess is that we can't work it out now we have to experiment and work our way to the other side. As Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” I think we are still at the problem creation level for many of these key areas.
All the parts and interactions of the environment are complex and we are still learning about them. Plus, the impacts of a warming planet are changing what we know. We are behind the curve and nature will do what nature does without checking in with us first. A warmer atmosphere will thaw the tundra releasing methane which will...??? We can guess but we won't know. So, again, we have to study, learn, try and scale to help the environment as the negative impacts are unveiled to us.
So yes, it's useful to define climate tech as an industry. It's more important for enough of us to commit to climate tech and pursue it with all our compassion, leadership, talent and ingenuity.
Thanks for doing your part.