Knowledge for a warmer world: a patent analysis of climate change adaptation technologies

09 August 2021

Kerstin Hötte, Su Jung Jee, Sugandha Srivastav
View Journal Article / Working Paper

Technologies help adapt to climate change but little systematic research about these technologies and their interaction with mitigation exists. We identify climate change adaptation technologies (CCATs) in US patent data to study the technological frontier in adaptation. We find that patenting in CCATs was roughly stagnant over the past decades. CCATs form two main clusters: (1) science-intensive CCATs related to agriculture, health and monitoring technologies; and (2) engineering-based for coastal, water and infrastructure adaptation. 25% of CCATs help in climate change mitigation, and we infer that synergies can be maximized through well designed policy. CCATs rely more on public R&D than other inventions, and CCAT patents are citing more science over time, indicating a growing relevance of research as a knowledge source for innovation. Policymakers can use these results to get greater clarity on where R&D support for CCATs can be directed.