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Climate Tech, Clean Tech, Envirotech & Green Tech: What’s the Difference?

Posted 2 Jul 2024

Climate Tech, Clean Tech, Envirotech & Green Tech: What’s the Difference?

Investment in Europe’s carbon and energy sector has nearly tripled since 2021, commanding a higher share of overall tech investment than ever before. This large-scale investment in the sector unfolds against a backdrop of escalating global carbon emissions where more innovative solutions are needed to support the transition to net zero. The UK invested £60 billion in green technologies in 2023 alone, with £300 billion of public and private investment in UK low-carbon sectors since 2010.


Digital Catapult is helping advance industrial sustainability through deep tech innovation, and we have supported numerous startups and technology adopters, such as National Grid, to innovate in order to monitor, mitigate and eliminate carbon emissions.  But the way that companies operating in sustainable innovation describe themselves and what they do can lack consistency: do you know your climate tech from cleantech, or envirotech from green tech? What’s the difference and why is it important? 

Definitions of Climate Tech, Cleantech, Envirotech and Green Tech

Climate Tech

Climate Tech, or climate change technology, refers to technologies specifically aimed at addressing or mitigating climate change-related problems. Over the last decade the term has gained significant traction encompassing solutions such as climate modelling, prediction tools and carbon capture technologies. Climate-resilient infrastructure is a feature of climate tech and Climate X, an alumnus of Digital Catapult’s programmes, is one example of an innovative startup offering global climate risk data analytics to enhance organisational resilience against the impact of climate change.


Coined in the early 2000s, cleantech refers to technologies and business models designed to reduce costs, minimise energy consumption, and use fewer materials, all while improving products or services. This term, popularised in the financial and business communities, spans diverse industries such as energy, agriculture, manufacturing and transportation. The key differentiator between cleantech and other terms is in the context where the term stems from – cleantech originates in the environmental movements in the United States during the 1970s when viable business models for clean technology were lacking. and Circulor are two examples of cleantech businesses that Digital Catapult has supported through our targeted innovation initiatives. uses machine learning to eliminate waste energy in buildings, minimising unnecessary CO2 emissions and reducing electricity bills, while Circulor utilises distributed ledger technologies to monitor and track the origin of raw materials and CO2 emissions in supply chains.



Unlike cleantech, the term envirotech comes from the work between environmental and technological historians over the past twenty years. Envirotech refers to the interplay between society, environment and technology. Besides its technological applications, envirotech also includes biodiversity conservation and environmental remediation efforts. Emsol has created a tool to enable businesses to identify the root causes of urban air and noise pollution with real-time data analytics to help improve the environment. Discover more examples of groundbreaking envirotech startups.

Green Tech

Green tech is the most all-encompassing term of all and lacks a clear set of definitions, serving as an umbrella term for a broad range of environmentally friendly innovations from renewable energy to recycling models, electric vehicles to sustainable agriculture. Digital Catapult’s support for new green tech initiatives include the Hydrogen Innovation Initiative (HII) and our Hydrogen Sensor Accelerator Programme. We are a founding partner of HII, helping to accelerate the development of hydrogen technology supply chains to transform UK industry into a net zero powerhouse. A Welsh startup on the programme is working to refreeze parts of the Arctic with underwater drones powered by green hydrogen, helping to tackle climate change whilst preserving a critical ecosystem and working with Indigenous communities.

Digital Catapult and Sustainability Technologies

Digital Catapult plays a major role in supporting the UK’s transition to net zero by advancing industrial sustainability through deep tech innovation. Our programmes, such as the AI for Decarbonisation’s Virtual Centre of Excellence and the Logistics Living Lab support efforts to decarbonise high carbon-emitting sectors, such as agriculture, energy, manufacturing, and logistics. 

Our new Made Smarter Innovation Sustainability Accelerator will support innovators to help shape the future of environmental control systems, the circular economy, and concrete manufacturing among other challenges. With £5,000 funding provided to companies developing solutions for the UK manufacturing sector, the programme is currently looking for companies to be part of these transformative initiatives. To learn more and apply, click here