Content Overview

The Keep Cool Mission

It’s our responsibility to highlight climate solutions and to attract human and financial capital to address climate challenge areas. As PwC explains in their State of Climate Tech 2020 report: 

"Each challenge area attracts very different amounts of capital, as indeed does each [solution] within the challenge areas, reflecting the maturity of the underlying technology. For example, solar and wind power generation has well-tested, established technologies and a proven, mature business model. Accordingly, this [solution] attracts substantial overall finance, but comparatively limited amounts of venture capital."

Human capital in particular is a major challenge: 

"In established startup sectors, such as software, Internet or biotech, the mature ecosystem attracts, grows and supplies this talent...With fewer successes, the climate tech sector has a smaller pool to draw from. The sector is also complex in needing deep technical expertise from different domains, as well as commercial leaders who know how to get to market."

We want to illuminate opportunities in climate tech for investors who are looking for responsible return and for talent looking for meaningful and rewarding work. Ideally, this will reduce friction and spearhead climate tech advancements.

Categorizing climate tech startups by climate challenge area 

As noted in the PwC report, there are 5 key ‘vertical’ sectors that contribute the majority of emissions: 

  • Energy 
  • Mobility and Transport 
  • Food, Agriculture, and Land Use 
  • Heavy Industry
  • Built Environment. 

In addition, the report includes two “horizontal” challenge areas with the potential for sector-agnostic solutions. These are: 

  • GHG Capture and Storage 
  • Climate and Earth Data Generation. 

The graphic below summarizes climate tech challenge areas and possible solutions. At Keep Cool, each of our reports aligns a climate tech solution to these challenge areas. For a more detailed overview of each challenge area, please refer to the appendix below. 

Navigating our Reports 

Each of our reports consists of ten sections. Each report covers one climate solution and its varied applications to climate tech (reducing GHG emissions and/or addressing the impacts of global warming).

  • Our north star: If this report accomplishes one thing, we hope this is it. 
  • What is ‘X’?: Aligning on the fundamentals of the solution explored in the report. 
  • Why it matters: Why you should care. 
  • Every challenge, an opportunity: Identifying the climate challenge areas that are potentially addressable by players in the space. 
  • Players: Pivotal players, products, research and trends in the space.
  • Where it's headed: Bold predictions for how this solution will shape the future.
  • Opportunities for action: Untapped opportunities leveraging the solution and concrete steps you can take today.
  • Obstacles: Thoughtful critiques and key challenges to overcome.
  • Your next role: Curated opportunities to work on the solution. 
  • More to explore: Bonus content on the space beyond climate tech.
See all Reports

Appendix

Below please find a detailed overview of each climate challenge area:

1. Energy

Main Challenge: Generating electricity and heat energy accounts for approximately one-third of global greenhouse gases emissions.

Potential Climate Tech Solution(s): 

  • Produce, develop and distribute net zero sources of energy and alternative fuels. 
  • Increase efficiency in the energy sector and of energy intensive electronics (such as data centers). 
  • Wind and solar are already mainstays and increasingly competitive with fossil fuel alternatives. However, additional tools and technology are needed to harness the full potential of renewables. 
  • Ex: Battery storage will be crucial to help with intermittency of many renewables. We also need smarter, more efficient grids that can store and transmit clean energy when and where it’s needed.

2. Mobility and Transport

Main Challenge: Transport has been one of the fastest growing sources of emissions; GHG emissions from transport have increased by 71% since 1990 and account for approximately one-quarter of global emissions.

Potential Climate Tech Solution(s):

  • Develop electric and micro-mobility vehicles. The transition to electric vehicles has so far been a favored tool for abating GHG emissions.
  • Increase the attractiveness of different mobility options including shared transport or even avoided journeys.
  • Improve vehicle performance technologies. Ex: Increase the efficiency of engines, materials, and batteries associated with moving goods, whether by land, sea and air.
  • Create changes in the built environment, including greater efficiency of transport systems. Implement use of autonomous & sensor technologies, improvements to maintenance and repair, and urban planning and design.

3. Food, Agriculture, and Land Use 

Main Challenge: The food systems that feed the world’s population account for 19-29% of global GHG emissions. By 2050, the global population is expected to grow by 25%. This will require a dramatic increase in food production, which will in turn result in an increase of GHG emissions unless we do transform the way we grow food.

Potential Climate Tech Solution(s):

  • Develop food production methods that replace carbon intensive animal based products (e.g. synthetic proteins or insect proteins)
  • Transition to lower-GHG farming practices (e.g.precision farming, vertical farming or aeroponics)
  • Manage and modify natural environments through reforestation, afforestation, or (avoided) deforestation. 
  • Manage land resources in a way which reduces carbon emissions (e.g. reducing soil CO2 emissions). 
  • Reduce GHG emissions in food supply chains (e.g. eliminating spoilage).
  • Develop new fertilizers and other industrial chemicals with lower carbon footprints. 

4. Heavy Industry 

Main Challenge: Heavy industry is accountable for around one-fifth of GHG emissions. It is also the fastest growing challenge area in terms of emissions and perhaps the difficult as far as improvements are concerned. This is in part because the materials produced by industrial processes are ubiquitous: chemicals form our plastics, fertilizers, and synthetic fibers; concrete and metals are the basis of much of our infrastructure, etc... 

Potential Climate Tech Solutions: 

  • Create low GHG alternatives to traditional industrial inputs (e.g. chemicals, steel, plastics, etc.)
  • Reduce emissions in industrial manufacturing.
  • Reduce, reuse and manage waste in manufacturing processes. 

5. Built Environment

Main Challenge: Buildings and construction are responsible for 39% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Operational emissions (generated from energy used to heat, cool and light buildings) account for nearly two-thirds of this. The remainder comes from embodied carbon emissions, or the ‘upfront’ carbon that is associated with materials and construction processes.

Potential Climate Tech Solutions: 

  • High efficiency fittings, fixtures, lighting, and heating and cooling for commercial and residential buildings
  • Smart management of building energy consumption using sensors, smart devices, AI analysis of the ensuing data, and app control for consumers
  • Efficient construction methods, with an emphasis on ease to construct and reduced waste on site (e.g. modular construction, 3-D printing, imagery/computing)

In addition, we include two “horizontal” challenge areas which are relevant themes with the potential for sector-agnostic solutions. These horizontal challenge areas are:

1. GHG Capture and Storage 

Main challenge: Though many major economies are transitioning their energy systems from coal to cleaner fuels, fossil fuels will likely remain a primary contributor to energy production for decades, especially in emerging markets. This means that significant mitigating measures need to be taken for the world to reach net zero. 

Potential Climate Tech Solutions: 

  • Remove GHG from the atmosphere, especially to compensate for energy production and industrial processes. This will require natural climate solutions developed specifically to sequester greenhouse gases. 
  • Create systems for long-term GHG storage.
  • Develop more robust systems for monitoring and managing the carbon footprint of organizations or governments.

2. Climate and Earth Data Generation 

Main challenge: The business case for climate tech depends heavily on environmental policymaking. For conscientious policymaking, we will need timely, accurate information about the state of our planet and future predictions. 

Potential Climate Tech Solutions:

  • Improved reporting and analysis of earth and climate data (e.g. collected via satellites, sensors or weather machines and analyzed using machine learning).
  • Develop technologies which reduce emissions related to the satellites that capture this data (e.g. mini-satellites, electrified launch equipment, improved energy efficiency of satellites or biodegradable satellites).

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