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Climate, Clean, or Green Tech?

Posted at: 03.14.2023
Environment & sustainability technologies are popping up everywhere. What’s the difference? And what do they mean?

Photo credit: Zbynek Burival

Climate tech, Cleantech, Green tech. These terms seem similar, but actually don’t mean the same thing. Read on to learn what types of tech and innovations fall into each category and why it matters.

What are we talking about?

Climate Tech refers to technology aimed at mitigating or adapting to the impacts of climate change, i.e. reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or helping communities and businesses prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Cleantech is a broader term that encompasses any technology that aims to improve environmental performance, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste reduction.

Greentech refers to any technology that is environmentally friendly or sustainable. 

Does the term greentech sound a little… fishy? Greentech has become a catch-all term and can be used to greenwash products or services that may not be truly environmentally friendly. 

The term Greenwashing describes misleading claims about a product or service"e;s environmental benefits in order to appeal to consumers or public opinion. For example, "50% more recycled content than before" is printed on a rug. The manufacturer did increase the recycled content from 2% to 3%. Although technically correct, the message gives the impression that the rug contains a large amount of recycled fiber.

Are all “greentech’s” greenwashing? No. But are there words to be more precise on what the technology does? Yes. Take a look below.

Got a few examples?

To get a better idea of what Climate tech looks like, here are a few startups paving the way for the climate.

Carbon Clean Solutions has developed a technology to capture carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and convert it into valuable products.

Carboneo is building processes that enable large-scale recycling of CO2 into basic chemicals and fuels, reducing organizations"e; footprint by 90%.

Watershed helps companies get to net zero carbon, fast. With their enterprise climate platform, companies can measure, report, and act on their carbon footprint.

Now let’s dive into a few examples of startups with solutions that fall under Cleantech.

Kumulus machines create drinking water using only solar power and the humidity in the air. They are fully autonomous, easy to transport and install, and can be controlled remotely.

Proterra designs and manufactures electric buses and charging systems, offering a cleaner and more sustainable transportation option.

Rentricity created an advanced technology to recover energy from industrial processes and uses it to generate clean electric power that can be sold back to the grid or used on-site.


So, what should I use?

While there is some overlap between these technologies, it’s better to talk about Climate tech and Cleantech rather than Green tech. Since these terms are more specific and targeted toward solving particular environmental issues, we can have more meaningful and targeted discussions about how to address them. And avoid blanket terms that can mislead consumers.


We can’t wait to share which Climate tech and Cleantech experts will be at VivaTech this June. 

Don’t miss your chance to join in the conversation and book your pass today.


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