Jul 15, 2019

Market of climate-friendly patents has "notable drop-off" since 2012

Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pace of new patenting for several categories of climate-friendly technologies has seen a "notable drop-off" since 2012, according to a July 11 analysis from the IEA and OECD.

Why it matters: While far wider deployment of existing tech can do a great deal to stem carbon emissions, the steep cuts needed to meet the Paris Agreement temperature goals will likely require substantial innovation.

What they did: The analysts explored the pace of patenting in several groupings of emissions-cutting tech (see chart above). They noted that several other fields — including health and IT — have not seen this drop-off.

  • "Some of this decline could be explained by the increasing 'maturity' of climate change mitigation technologies, and thus lower propensity to patent."

But, but, but: It's not all gloom and doom. Some areas have bucked the trend, such as "enabling" tech for integrating storage into power systems, and cleaner shipping.

The bottom line: The core finding is concerning despite some bright spots, the IEA and OECD analysts say, noting for instance that today's competitive costs for wind and solar are the fruit of R&D in past decades.

  • "The precipitous decline in patented innovation since 2011–2012 is a stark warning since there can be a long lag between innovation and cost reductions."

Go deeper

The past and potential of replacing coal-fired power, heating with gas

Data: International Energy Agency; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

The International Energy Agency on Tuesday issued a report making the climate case for natural gas — with important caveats — and unveiled a tool for tracking methane emissions from oil-and-gas development.

What they did: The report explores the past (see chart above) and potential of replacing coal-fired power and heating with gas.

Go deeperArrowJul 17, 2019

The limited case for direct air capture

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Nascent tech that pulls CO2 from the atmosphere could "significantly" reduce the costs of fighting climate change, but achieving scale is hardly a sure thing and massive deployment would consume lots of energy, a new peer-reviewed study warns.

Why it matters: The paper in Nature Communications arrives amid increasing attention to direct air capture (DAC) and other negative emissions technologies. They're important because it looks pretty unlikely that nations will cut emissions enough to meet the goals of the Paris climate deal.

Go deeperArrowJul 23, 2019

China's carbon emissions may peak as soon as 2021

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Carbon emissions from China could peak as soon as 2021, which is nine years before the voluntary deadline in their Paris agreement pledge, a new peer-reviewed study finds.

Why it matters: China is by far the world's largest carbon emitter. The trajectory of its emissions affect whether the world has any chance of meeting the Paris temperature goals — or, more likely, how much they're overshot.

Go deeperArrowJul 30, 2019