Nemet, G., Greene, J., Müller-Hansen, F., Minx, J.
Dataset on the adoption of historical technologies informs the scale-up of emerging carbon dioxide removal measures
in Communications Earth & Environment, 30.10.2023
Peer Review , Applied Sustainability Sciences
A variety of agricultural, industrial, and consumer technologies have been adopted over the past century and can provide insight into the scale-up of emerging technologies, such as carbon removal. Here we present the Historical Adoption of Technology dataset—a set of harmonized global annual time series from the early 20th century to present. We use three growth metrics to compare historical growth to that of carbon removal in emissions scenarios and future targets. We find heterogeneity in growth rates in the diffusion of historical technologies, ranging from 1.1 to 14.3% (median 6.2%) for our preferred growth metric based on a logistic function. Most emissions scenarios show growth within this range (median 5.9%, range 1 to >100%). Company announcements and policy targets imply faster growth than both historical technologies and carbon removal in emissions scenarios. Further work can explain the heterogeneity and facilitate more precise comparisons.