Cleantech V Green Tech: Are They the Same
Given the outsized impact climate change could have on human civilization if left unchecked, the world is paying much more attention. Technological innovations have accompanied the global effort to tackle climate change and ensure environmental sustainability. However, as the sustainability movement continues to gain momentum, several words are being used without much attention being paid to their meaning.
Some examples of such terms include ‘cleantech’ and ‘green tech.’ These terms are being used, often interchangeably, by climate change activists and innovators in everything from reports to speeches. It is, however, important to truly understand these words.
Thus, in this article, we’ll consider what these words mean and whether they are truly synonymous.
What is Green Tech?
Green tech is an abbreviation that stands for ‘Green Technology.’ The term refers to a type of technology that is considered sustainable or environmentally friendly. The word is usually used in reference to how sustainable the technology’s production process or supply chain is. Green technology is also used to refer to clean energy production as well as technologies that have a noticeably smaller carbon footprint.
Green technology is also used in a broad context to refer to the use of technology and science to reduce human damage to the natural environment. Thus, it encompasses areas ranging from agriculture and hydrology to energy and atmospheric science.
What is Cleantech?
In some contexts, cleantech is used as a synonym for green tech. However, the term is also used more specifically to refer to methods of reducing the environmental impact of traditional technologies. For instance, cleantech could be used to refer to technologies that make the use of coal power more environmentally friendly. The validity of this use of the word is, however, questioned by many environmentalists.
The term cleantech also has close ties with the venture capital (VC) community, as it was used mainly by venture capitalists in the early 2000s. The term was popularized by Nick Parker and Keith Raab when they founded the Cleantech Group in 2002. It is worth noting that cleantech is still popularly used in VC and business communities today.
Do Cleantech and Green Tech Mean the Same Thing?
Some commentators opine that green tech as a term is much broader than clean tech. For these commentators, while cleantech may refer to particular products and technologies that help reduce environmental damage from current technologies, green tech could be used to include services that make the environment more sustainable.
Others believe that cleantech focuses more on greenhouse gas emissions while green tech is concerned with all forms of environmental damage caused by human beings. For most people, however, cleantech and green tech will continue to be synonymous.
Regardless of the various positions on the issue, it does not appear that there is any single accepted distinction between cleantech and green tech. As such, their meaning and distinction (or lack of) would depend mainly on the contexts of their use. Thus, the only accurate way to deduce what a person means when they use ‘cleantech’ or ‘green tech’ is to pay attention to how they use the words, the message being communicated, and the intended audience.