by Alon Tal
Island Press, 2024
eISBN: 978-1-64283-339-3 | Paper: 978-1-64283-338-6

Climate tech is critical for averting planetary chaos. Half the greenhouse gas reductions required to reach “net-zero” climate targets in 2050 will need to come from technologies that have not yet been invented.  Without effective government interventions, market incentives alone will not produce a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy. The commercial value of innovative climate technology, especially in its early phases, remains underpriced—far below its social value. The good news is that smart policies can change these dynamics and catalyze the necessary creativity and investment in clean technology, and its deployment. The key question is: which approaches can lead us to future carbon neutrality, and which are likely to fall short?

In Making Climate Tech Work, environmental policy expert Alon Tal demystifies climate innovation programs around the world—no policy background needed. Beginning with a review of government’s general role in technology policy development, Tal assesses each policy alternative, describing eye-opening experiments in diverse countries, presenting a range of case studies, interviewing leading decarbonization experts, and interpreting new empirical data. Discover how Germany incentivized renewables; Denmark became a wind energy superpower; Australia phased out incandescent bulbs; California’s prisons pioneered low-carbon menus; and why carbon taxes have failed around the world—but could be designed for success.

Tal distills the benefits and drawbacks of each policy, along with related ethical questions and public perceptions. He concludes by addressing two commonly overlooked issues in climate policy: disruption of workers’ livelihoods from the clean energy transition; and integrating the Global South into the planet’s new low-carbon economy—as the region that has contributed least to climate change but which must be part of a global solution. Tal not only evaluates which policy strategies effectively reduce emissions but also how they can promote climate tech innovation.

Humanity is ultimately in a race against time and effective climate policies are critical to ensure a sustainable future. Making Climate Tech Work serves as an essential primer for policymakers, academics, activists, and anyone interested in climate solutions.