Investment in climate technology falls by 40%, study says

Funds channelled to ideas with a higher potential for emissions reductions

A solar farm in Albania. Solar power's share of investment is proportionally up by 24 per cent. AFP
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Climate technology investment has fallen by 40 per cent globally over the last year as investors focus on funding ideas with the greatest potential, a report by financial consultancy PwC has found.

The investment that has happened was spent on technology seen as having potential for higher emissions reduction, the study said.

The State of Climate Tech report said that the decrease in investment levels reflects market conditions more than a deliberate move away from climate tech.

“The development and scale-up of climate technology is an essential part of meeting the climate challenge,” said Emma Cox, global climate leader at PwC UK.

“So, while it is not surprising that absolute levels of investment in climate tech have fallen along with the market, it is concerning.

“The good news is that the sector has performed well in relative terms, with investment falling less than in other areas.

“It is also encouraging to see a shift in the balance of investments towards technologies that can cut emissions the most.

“Now we need to see that shift continue, coupled with an increase in the absolute levels of investment in all technologies with the potential to cut emissions.”

Investment in climate technology fell by 40 per cent in the last year, PwC found. It added that the fall in climate tech investment was significantly smaller than the venture capital and private equity average of 50 per cent across sectors.

Meanwhile, the share of funding going to climate tech rose, accounting for more than 10 per cent of private market start-up investments in 2023.

There was a rise in the share of climate tech private equity and venture capital for start-ups working on tech with potential for higher emissions reduction, PwC said.

The report found that solar power's share of investment is proportionally up by 24 per cent while that of green hydrogen is up by 64 per cent.

Carbon capture, use and storage was up 39 per cent but still represents less than 2 per cent of total climate tech funding.

Meanwhile, the proportion of capital going to technology with relatively lower potential to reduce emissions has fallen.

For example, the proportional share of investment for light-duty battery electric vehicles is down 50 per cent since 2022, while that of micromobility – a sector that includes e-bikes – is down 38 per cent.

However, mobility and transport in its different forms still accounts for 45 per cent of investment.

Will Jackson-Moore, global sustainability leader at PwC UK, said: “A challenging macroeconomic environment, sinking valuations, and geopolitical turmoil has seen capital flows to climate tech ventures drop 40 per cent at a time when climate tech needs it most.

“But while such industry and macroeconomic dynamics may cloud investor confidence, they also present significant first-mover opportunities for investors to engage in the current dip, as the need for climate tech innovations will only grow stronger.”

Early stage deals made up more than two thirds of all climate tech deals in 2018 and 2019, dropping to about 47 per cent in 2023, the report said.

Updated: October 17, 2023, 1:38 PM