What technologies will help us get to net zero?

Numerous technologies will play a part in our journey towards net zero. Some are tried and tested while others are still in their early stages. Individual pages provide more detail while the net-negative framework offers a way of thinking about how everything fits together.

But progress is not simply a function of whether technologies exist. We also rely on human decision-making about what is prioritised, funded and encouraged by policy and regulatory frameworks. For a discussion of the importance of these issues see the transition section of the site.

The suite of technologies available to us

* Note that on our definition a technology is only negative if it has an absolute capacity to draw down carbon rather than just avoiding an increase in carbon.
Technology areaWhat is includedCarbon avoiding or carbon negative?*
Biological solutions
  • Carbon draw down by trees, plants and algae and soils
  • Bioenergy to replace conventional energy
Both
Circular economy
  • Circularity dramatically reduces raw material usage and waste, reducing carbon emissions in the process
Avoiding
Direct air carbon capture
  • Technology that allows us to extract CO2 from dispersed sources for use or permanent storage
Negative
Electric vehicles
  • Battery and hydrogen vehicles can both be part of the solution
Avoiding
Enhanced weathering
  • Accelerating the natural process through which minerals combine with carbon to remove it from the atmosphere
  • This can also reduce ocean acidification with knock on benefits for sea life
Negative
Household energy efficiency
  • Reducing power usage in homes (and switching to renewable power sources)
Avoiding
Industrial carbon capture
  • Capturing carbon from concentrated industrial sources for permanent storage
Avoiding
Industrial efficiency
  • Reducing power usage in within industry
Avoiding
Lower carbon diets
  • Changes to both human and animal diets can have a significant impact on emissions
Avoiding
Lower carbon fossil fuels
  • Different hydrocarbons have different emissions profiles
Avoiding
New building materials
  • New steel and cement technology can reduce emissions
  • Using organic materials for construction can lock in carbon as can emerging types of cement.
Both
Renewable energy
  • Massive renewable energy generation and storage is the key to achieving net zero
Both : underpins everything
Zero-emission hydrogen and ammonia
  • Zero-emission hydrogen, and hydrogen-based products, for energy and storage
Avoiding

It is striking how few of the technologies that are presently available, or are in progress, are actually negative, as opposed to just carbon reducing