Definitions & Methodology

About This Page

This page summarizes the methodology used to collect, categorize, and analyze the data presented in the Climate Innovation Funding Tracker. EDF plans to update and expand the Tracker over time. We will revise this page with each major update to include developments such as changes in scope or methodology. 

About the Climate Innovation Funding Tracker

The Climate Innovation Funding Tracker is a public website and data visualization tool developed by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in collaboration with David Gardiner and Associates, Outright, and support from Breakthrough Energy to track and analyze U.S. government spending on climate innovation. The Tracker includes information on the climate innovation expenditures of the main climate-related executive branch agencies to provide a picture of the U.S. federal climate innovation budget.  

The Tracker is intended to serve as a living resource for policymakers, climate advocates, and the public to better understand federal spending on climate innovation and will be updated regularly. This first module presents data from 2021 Appropriations to three main agencies: the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, with a focus exclusively on climate mitigation. As we continue to build upon the Tracker, we welcome any feedback or suggestions for improvements to this resource.

Defining Climate Innovation

Definitions for the key terms and categories included in the Tracker are provided below. 

Climate InnovationWe define climate innovation as the creation and application of new or enhanced climate solutions through technology, public policy, and investment models. This includes solutions for mitigating (“mitigation”), adapting to (“adaptation”), and better understanding the nature and impacts of climate change (“climate science”).
Climate Innovation FundingFor the purposes of this Tracker, which focuses on climate innovation funding by the U.S. government, we define climate innovation funding as executive branch agency budget authority dedicated to programs which support climate innovation activities. 

In general, we include both programs with a “direct” focus on climate change, i.e., where climate change is a primary purpose of the program, and “indirect” programs, i.e., programs which have a different primary purpose but where a significant portion of the program’s funding supports climate-relevant activities.
MitigationWe define climate mitigation programs as those dedicated to the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of technologies and processes to reduce, reuse, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. (e.g., development of clean energy technologies, natural climate solutions, and other potential climate solutions)
AdaptationWe define climate adaptation programs as those dedicated to the research, development, and deployment of technologies and processes to prepare or adjust human and natural systems to climate impacts. (e.g., hardening of gird infrastructure, wildfire prevention, and development of drought-tolerant crop varieties)
Climate ScienceWe define climate science programs as those dedicated to the research, development, and deployment of technologies and processes to improve human understanding of the science and impacts of climate change. (e.g., atmospheric monitoring, climate and weather modeling, and data gathering) 

Data Scope

The below table outlines the scope of the data collected for the current version of the Tracker. EDF plans to expand this scope over time to include additional years, agencies, funding types, and funding sources. Updates will be reflected in the table below. 

Data ParametersDetails for Current Version
Date of Last Update10/15/2022
Types of Climate Funding Included (e.g., Mitigation, Adaptation, Climate Science)Mitigation only
Fiscal Years Included2021
Agencies IncludedDOE, DOT, USDA
Funding Sources Included(e.g., Appropriations, Tax Credits, Other Legislation)Enacted Appropriations
What IS IncludedPrograms with an explicit goal of advancing climate mitigation. Programs that directly advance the research, development, demonstration, or deployment of key climate mitigation technologies.Programs that fund activities with a strong nexus to climate mitigation, provided that the funding dedicated to climate mitigation activities is at least 20% of the program’s total funding. If a program reported the percent or amount of its funding going toward climate mitigation, then the dollar amount included in the tracker represents that figure and not the total program funding. Workforce programs dedicated to training or supporting individuals’ education in climate- or clean energy-specific careers (e.g., solar installation training, university nuclear engineering programs).Basic research programs only where there is a clear and direct application in climate mitigation (e.g., DOE’s Fusion Energy Science program).For offices where every program within the office is included in the Tracker (i.e., the entire office was determined to advance climate mitigation), appropriations listed under ‘Program Direction’ are included. This includes costs associated with federal workforce funding, including salaries, travel expenses, benefits, and safety measures for federal personnel.Facility construction or project costs for programs to develop, test, or demonstrate innovative technologies with clear and direct application in climate mitigation (e.g., DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Versatile Test Reactor Project).
What is NOT IncludedPrograms that do not direct at least 20% of funding towards climate mitigation activities. Programs where climate mitigation may be a byproduct or co-benefit, but that benefit is de minimis, uncertain, or difficult to quantify. Programs with climate innovation benefits which are not described in budget documents but may be described on agency websites or in agency-provided climate appropriations information.Programs that do not have funding appropriated to them, including fee-for-service programs such which do not receive Congressional appropriations and are instead funded by sponsors.Programs that did not receive appropriations in the year in question and instead only incurred outlays.Program Direction funding (salaries, travel expenses, etc.) for offices where only some programs were included in the Tracker (i.e., not all programs in the office were determined to advance climate mitigation).

Data Sources & Methods

This section describes the data collection methodologies and sources used. EDF plans to expand the Tracker over time to include additional data. Updates to the data collection methodologies will be reflected in the table below.

Data TypeSources & Methods 
Appropriations Funding LevelsData on enacted Congressional appropriations were gathered from Congressional appropriations reports and agency budget justifications. Appropriations funding levels were gathered down to the most granular level available—the program level. For agencies where appropriations data at the program level was not publicly available, we contacted the agency to solicit additional information.  
Information on Program ActivitiesInformation on program activities, which was used to assign funding amongst the different categories (e.g., sector, solution, innovation stage, etc.) was gathered from agency budget justifications and agency websites. 

Category Assignment

After collecting climate innovation funding amounts by program, we

then categorized this funding to make it easier to view the data through different lenses that can help to enhance understanding of how the climate innovation budget in distributed. These categories are described in greater detail below. 

AgencyThe Agency category describes the government agency and its sub-offices that are responsible for a given climate innovation program, as described by the following hierarchy: 
  1. Agency (e.g., Department of Energy (DOE))
  2. Office or Administration (e.g., within DOE: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE))
  3. Sub-Office(e.g., within EERE: Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO))
  4. Program or Research Area (e.g., within SETO: Concentrating Solar Power Technologies)
This is the format in which the data is collected and does not require any decision-making to assign.
SectorThe Sector category describes the economic sector that is supported by the program. Programs were assigned to one or more of the following sectors: 
  • Power
  • Transportation
  • Industry
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Buildings
SolutionThe Solution category describes the type of technology (or set of technologies) that is supported by the program. Programs were assigned to one or more of the following solutions: 
  • Efficiency
  • Clean Electricity
  • Electrification
  • Low-Carbon Fuels
  • Carbon Management
  • Non-CO2 Reductions
  • Land Sink
  • Other
Innovation StageThe Innovation Stage Category describes the phase of technology development that is supported by the program. Programs were assigned to one or more of the following innovation stages:
  • Research and Development (R&D)
  • Piloting and Demonstrations
  • Deployment

Data Caveats

Each program is assigned to one or more of the classifications listed under each of the categories in the table above. In some cases, funding is split between multiple classifications within a category. For example, a program may support both the power and transportation sectors. If the program description provided a clear split for the program funding (e.g., 20% for power and 80% for transportation), we split the funding within the Sector category accordingly. If we identified that the program included funding for multiple classifications, but the description did not specify how the funding was divided, we split it evenly among the classifications within the category (e.g., to use the example above, 50% for power and 50% for transportation). The full program funding amount was never double-counted within a category. 

In those cases where one program’s funding counted for multiple options within multiple categories, the full amount of funding was allocated individually at each category level, and it is not possible to follow specific dollars across the different categories. For instance, if a program’s funding is estimated as being split 50-50 between the power and transportation sectors and 50-50 between the R&D and deployment innovation stages, it is not possible to determine how much of the program’s power sector spending went toward R&D and does not necessarily follow that 25% of program funding is dedicated to power sector R&D. 

Categorizing federal programs according to sector, solution, and innovation stage relies on judgment calls and, in cases where funding applies to multiple options within a category, the use of rough estimates to determine the relative amounts of funding dedicated to each option. Accordingly, both individual and aggregate funding allocated to these categories should be interpreted as ballpark estimates rather than precise amounts, with the exception of the Agency category.