It may seem like an odd time for an optimistic report on the climate crisis. We just lived through the hottest summer recorded on the planet, in what will very likely turn out to be the hottest year to date.
Rising global temperatures have made daily life more dangerous across many parts of the world, fueling deadly heat waves, droughts, famines, and wildfires. Those threats will only worsen so long as nations continue to fill the atmosphere with greenhouse-gas pollution.
But the glimmer of good news is that, for the most part, we have the tools necessary to begin driving down emissions, and momentum is building behind meaningful climate action. The world has already avoided once worst-case warming trajectories, as nations and businesses develop and deploy the technologies, policies, capital, and infrastructure needed to transform the economy’s most polluting sectors.
This year, the editors at MIT Technology Review are launching a new annual list, MIT Technology Review’s 15 Climate Tech Companies to Watch, to recognize this progress and the companies and technologies best positioned to accelerate those changes. (You can see all the inaugural winners here.)
Our editors and reporters consulted dozens of industry experts, investors, academic sources, and editors at our foreign editions to come up with a host of nominees working on a broad array of climate technologies. We read through company materials, compared technical approaches, asked more experts about the scientific credibility of various claims, and debated internally until we settled on the final list.
MIT Technology Review’s 15 Climate Tech Companies to Watch in 2023 highlights companies that we believe have a promising shot at substantially cutting emissions or counteracting the dangers of climate change, based on the innovations they’ve achieved, their track records in implementing solutions, or both. It covers startups and established companies tackling some of the most important and pressing challenges. They’re developing more sustainable ways of generating electricity, storing energy, producing foods, manufacturing goods, and moving people and things around, and they’re finding new ways to adapt to the effects of global warming.
We strived to avoid hype, novelty, and niches, focusing on companies developing technologies that could achieve low enough costs and large enough scales to transform massive sectors.
We do not profess to be soothsayers. It’s tough to disrupt legacy industries, businesses fail for all sorts of reasons, and some of these may. We made a point of noting the specific challenges that each company may face. We also aren’t endorsing every aspect of their corporate strategies, practices, or histories. In some cases there is much to quibble with. But all these companies are pursuing technologies worth exploring as the world races to develop cleaner, better ways of doing business.
Ongoing emissions will lock in higher temperatures and more climate tragedies to come, and it’s important to recognize the life-and-death stakes of the challenge before us. But gloomy climate messaging has managed to convince half of young people that humanity is doomed, which is neither backed up by warming projections nor particularly motivating.
So we firmly believe that taking note of the world’s strides in implementing solutions is essential too. It offers a potent antidote to defeatism, a template for faster progress, and a damning argument against any lingering excuses to stall.
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