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 and Outright to track and analyze U.S. government spending on climate innovation. The Innovation 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. This page includes important information for interpreting the Innovation Tracker — including definitions, data sources, methods and caveats — and will be updated regularly.

The Innovation Tracker is intended to serve as a living resource for policymakers, climate advocates and the public to better understand federal spending on climate innovation. The categorization of federal programs is an inherently complex task. It includes nuanced decisions around what qualifies as climate innovation; what categories are relevant for which programs at what scale; how to handle federal funding of ongoing agency operations and how different types of federal investments (e.g., grants, tax credits and loans) can be compared effectively. Our methodology, while designed to be scientific, transparent and reproducible, is expected to stimulate discussion and we value that discussion as a critical and necessary part of the work. We welcome any feedback or suggestions for improvements to this resource.

Defining Climate Innovation

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

Climate InnovationThe 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 FundingU.S. government spending — including executive branch budget authority and estimated tax credit expenditures — dedicated to programs which support climate innovation.
MitigationActivities 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).
AdaptationActivities 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 grid infrastructure, wildfire prevention and development of drought-tolerant crop varieties).
Climate ScienceActivities 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 Innovation Tracker. EDF plans to expand this scope over time for greater completeness. Updates will be reflected in the table below.

Data ParametersDetails for Current Version
Date of Last Update01/04/2024
Types of Climate Funding Included (e.g., Mitigation, Adaptation, Climate Science)Mitigation only
Fiscal Years Included2021-2023
Agencies IncludedU.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),* U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)**

* Data for USDA do not include programs funded through the Farm Bill.

** Data for DOI and EPA are currently only included for programs funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Funding Sources Included (e.g., Appropriations, Tax Credits, Other Legislation)Enacted Annual Appropriations (FY21-23)

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (FY22-23)

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (FY22-23)
What IS IncludedWe used the following criteria to determine which government programs to include in the Tracker. We included programs that:
  • Have an explicit goal of advancing climate mitigation;
  • Directly advance the research, development, demonstration or deployment of key climate mitigation technologies; OR
  • 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.*
More specifically, we include programs focused on:
  • Developing and deploying clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, nuclear, energy efficiency, energy storage, energy transmission, battery electric vehicles, hydrogen, clean fuels and carbon capture and storage
  • Strengthening the supply chain for these technologies, including programs focused on innovation, procurement, manufacturing or recycling of critical materials and components
  • Incentivizing clean energy production and manufacturing
  • Supporting the direct reduction or sequestration of greenhouse gasses — including carbon, methane and nitrous oxides — through activities such as remediation of orphan wells, improved forestry and agricultural practices, livestock management and ecosystem restoration with a likelihood of improving sequestration (e.g., afforestation, reforestation)
  • Upgrading or expanding low-emissions transportation infrastructure (e.g., public transit, EV charging) and reducing traffic congestion
  • Reducing the likelihood of significant releases of greenhouse gas via wildfires or land-use change, such as wildfire prevention programs and the management and conservation of sensitive lands
  • Encouraging or requiring states, companies and other entities to reduce their climate emissions
In addition, we include:
  • 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 upstream climate innovation (e.g., DOE’s Fusion Energy Science program).
  • Funding for program direction (e.g., government salaries and expenses), only for offices where every program within the office is included in the Tracker (i.e., the entire office was determined to advance climate innovation).
  • Facility construction or project costs, only for facilities and projects with clear and direct application in climate innovation (e.g., DOE’s Versatile Test Reactor Project).
*If an agency explicitly reported that less than 100% percent of a program’s funding was going toward climate innovation, then we included only the portion indicated by the agency and not the full program funding. For instance, we used information provided by DOT on their Climate & Sustainability goals to determine what percentage of program funding to include where programs had multiple goals.
What IS NOT IncludedWhile many programs could be considered to support climate innovation, the following programs were NOT included, due to the more limited relevance to climate innovation, reproducibility, and/or difficulty in achieving data consistency: 
  • Programs that do not direct at least 20% of funding towards climate innovation 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).
More specifically, we include EXCLUDE programs focused on:
  • Supporting energy production that does not provide a climate benefit (e.g., investments in fossil fuels)
  • Supporting or maintaining existing infrastructure regardless of that infrastructure’s climate benefit (e.g. deferred maintenance on public transportation or in National Parks)
  • Providing funding across a broad range of possible uses and projects where climate-related projects may or may not be represented (e.g., enhanced mobility programs)
  • Reducing or removing pollutants that do not have a significant climate impact (e.g. Superfund, toxic air pollutants, coal ash)
  • Restoring or remediating ecosystems in ways that do not directly contribute to climate mitigation or sequestration (e.g., invasive pest management, toxic chemical clean-up)

Data Sources & Methods

This section describes the data collection methodologies and sources used. Updates to the data collection methodologies will be reflected in the table below.

Data TypeSources & Methods 
Funding Levels
  • Annual Appropriations: Data on enacted* annual appropriations were gathered from Congressional appropriations reports and agency budget justifications. Congressional appropriations reports can be found using CRS’s Appropriations Status Table and agency budget justifications can be found on individual agency websites.  
*In rare cases where data on enacted budget authority were not available, we used actual or estimated budget authority instead.

**Both the IIJA and IRA included enacted appropriations for programs over multiple years but did not always specify an amount for each fiscal year. To provide an estimate of the annual appropriations for those programs, we divided the total enacted appropriations level by the number of years the law made the funding available. For example, for a program that first receives appropriations in FY22, whose description specifies the funding is ‘available until September 30, 2030’, we divided the total enacted funding by 9 years to determine the annualized amount.
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 is 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.
SectorDescribes the economic sector that is supported by the program. Programs were assigned to one or more of the following sectors:  
  • Power: includes activities that reduce or sequester emissions from the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power.
  • Transportation: includes activities that reduce or sequester emissions from the movement of people and goods by cars, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes, and other vehicles.
  • Industry: includes activities that reduce or sequester emissions from the production of goods and materials, including steel, cement, chemicals, and other raw materials, as well as the production of fossil fuels.
  • Agriculture: includes activities that reduce or sequester emissions from crop and livestock production and/or increase the ability for agricultural land to sequester carbon emissions from other sources.
  • Forestry: includes activities that reduce emissions from land use and land-use change relating to forests and/or increase the ability of forests to sequester carbon emissions from other sources.
  • Buildings: includes activities that reduce or sequester emissions from homes, businesses, and the built environment.
SolutionDescribes 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: includes activities that support a reduction in the energy demand or emissions intensity of a process or system while producing the same or similar results.
  • Clean Electricity: includes activities that support the production, transmission, and distribution of clean electricity (defined as facilities that do not directly emit greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, during generation; this excludes technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage, which are captured in the “Carbon Management” category).
  • Electrification: includes activities that support the replacement of technologies or processes that use fossil fuels, like internal combustion engines or gas boilers, with electrically powered equivalents.
  • Low-Carbon Fuels: includes activities that support the production or use of fuels with lower carbon contents than traditional fossil fuels, such as green hydrogen or biogas.
  • Carbon Management: includes activities that capture carbon emissions from facilities or the atmosphere and transport them for permanent storage or conversion. (Excludes sequestration of carbon emissions in the soil or vegetation, which is captured in the “Land Sink” category).
  • Non-CO2 Reductions: includes activities that capture or reduce the production of non-carbon greenhouse gasses, such as methane or nitrous oxides. (Excludes activities which reduce air pollution that does NOT have an impact on climate change, such as PM 2.5).
  • Land Sink: includes activities that promote the restoration or maintenance of ecosystems that serve as carbon sinks, which naturally store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (e.g., programs that reduce wildfire risk, restore vegetation to degraded lands, or make changes to forestry or agricultural practices that enhance sequestration).
  • Other: includes activities not otherwise captured by the above categories (e.g. thermal storage).
Innovation StageDescribes 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): includes programs dedicated to early-stage research and development, including basic research, invention, and prototyping of new technologies or solutions.
  • Piloting and Demonstrations: includes programs that have moved beyond early-stage research and development to support the piloting and initial use of new technologies or solutions.
  • Deployment: includes programs designed to increase the adoption and use of new technologies or solutions.
Funding TypeDescribes the type of government spending that funds the program. Funding types currently accounted for in the Tracker include:
  • Annual Appropriations: includes funding provided through the yearly Congressional appropriations process that funds discretionary government programs (e.g., via the FY21 Omnibus appropriations bill).
  • One-Time Appropriations: includes funding provided on a one-time basis outside of the yearly appropriations process (e.g., via stand-alone legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act).
  • Tax Credits: includes funding made available via the implementation of provisions in the tax code.*
* Unlike appropriations, which provide a set amount of budget authority for a given program, tax credits do not typically specify the total amount of funding available per credit. Consequently, we use the estimated tax credit expenditures provided by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) as an estimate for the amount of funding to include in the Tracker. These estimated values are visually differentiated in the Tracker with cross-hatching to distinguish them from more concrete federal funding vehicles.
Funding SourceThe Funding Source category provides the name of the piece of Congressional legislation that provided the funding for the program.

Data Caveats

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.

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 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 (e.g., sector, solution, innovation phase), the full amount of funding was allocated individually to each category, assuming that the categorization in one area had no impact or association with the categorization in another. 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 research and development (R&D) and deployment innovation stages, the tool does not distinguish 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.