Edwards’ latest studies shed light on climate-tech needs

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Professor Morgan Edwards

May was a big month for Assistant Professor Morgan Edwards, as she published two important climate technology studies. These new papers could provide timely insights into the development of technologies that must scale rapidly to meet the needs of the warming planet and the 2015 Paris Agreement established to limit global temperature increases.

Assessing direct air capture with carbon storage technology

On May 6, a study co-led by Edwards and PhD student Zachary Thomas debuted in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research found that direct air capture with carbon storage (DACCS) could help remove nearly five gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) by midcentury if the emerging technology, which uses chemicals to capture the heat-trapping gas directly from the air, develops at a rate similar to other technologies that grew quickly in the past.

“Countries around the world and many other actors – from local governments to corporations to universities – are setting net zero targets,” Edwards says. “We know we will need to rapidly reduce CO2 emissions at the source, but technologies like DACCS that can remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere could also play an important role.”

The international team of researchers working on Edwards’ project also included La Follette Professor Gregory Nemet and La Follette alum Jenna Greene (MPA ’22), now a PhD student with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

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Corporate investments boost climate-tech startups

On May 15, a new study co-authored by Edwards was published in Nature Energy. This research, led by Assistant Research Professor Kathleen Kennedy of the Center for Global Sustainability in the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, found that corporate investments into climate-tech start-ups coupled with public and other private funding can expedite the deployment of new technologies. Edwards and her co-authors hope that this research can help policymakers develop more effective strategies for incentivizing the innovation needed to address the climate crisis.

“This analysis addresses a critical knowledge gap on the effects of growing corporate investments on the success of climate-tech,” Edwards says. “We find that corporate investment is consistently associated with higher rates of exits, and in recent years corporate investment is not correlated with failure, indicating that corporations may have learned from earlier losses and could play a larger role in supporting climate-tech moving forward.”

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Next up, Edwards, Nemet, and other study coauthors will share additional insights on climate-tech innovation when they release the second edition of the State of Carbon Dioxide Removal report on June 4, 2024.

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