Measuring impact: Determining which climate solutions can have the greatest impact

Measuring impact: Determining which climate solutions can have the greatest impact

The window of opportunity for effective deployment of clean technologies is narrowing. To meet its emissions-reduction targets, Canada — and the world — needs cleantech solutions that can achieve significant reductions quickly.

When it comes to preventing widespread devastation due to climate change, action is urgently needed. Due to the slow pace of climate policy-making and the world’s continued reliance on fossil fuels, the window of opportunity for effective deployment of new and cleaner technologies in capital-intensive verticals has narrowed substantially. In fact, the normal-course replacement cycle of carbon-intensive capital equipment may actually exceed the remaining time available for the global community to make the necessary changes to ensure that temperature increases remain under 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, the Paris Agreement target.

A positive development is a growing understanding of the carbon-reduction potential associated with the scaling of emerging cleantech solutions in high-emissions sectors. Some are based on engineered technologies that can, for example, remove and sequester carbon from the air. In other cases, these technologies draw on software tools such as artificial intelligence, big data and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to optimize energy usage and integrate renewable electricity sources.

The Mission from MaRS (MfM) initiative has identified 10 ventures that have developed technologies capable of achieving significant carbon reduction in cost-effective ways, making these ventures attractive in high-emissions sectors, such as real estate, transit and grid management. These ventures were selected for their scalability in recognition of the critical importance of making rapid gains in GHG reductions.

For investors and policy-makers considering the potential of such solutions, there are new methods for making focused predictions about the potential of such innovations if they gain traction and scale significantly. The Carbon Reduction Assessment of New Enterprises (CRANE) tool was the first such projection software available, and has been used in partnership with Mission from MaRS to estimate the emission-reduction potential of cleantech solutions developed by the 10 ventures. The modelling indicates that if these technologies achieved even a 0.1 percent global market share in their respective sectors, they’d collectively cut GHG emissions by 42 Mt of CO2e, or about 6 percent of Canada’s total carbon output. If these technologies reach a 1 percent share, the total reductions will exceed 400 Mts — roughly the annual amount of carbon used by 87 million cars or 8.3 million U.S. households. Canada — and the rest of the world — needs cleantech solutions that can achieve significant reductions quickly and sustainably to meet its emissions-reduction targets. In order to do that there needs to be clear methods of determining which solutions can have the greatest impact.


Emissions Reduction Calculator

This infographic, based on CRANE data, demonstrates what the potential emissions reduction impacts could be for some of the technologies within the MfM portfolio depending on how much market share they can secure and how soon they do so.

Market Penetration %
Market Penetration achieved in
Cumulative CO2e emissions reductions by year
143.94CO2e emissions
reductions (Mt)



Download the full report