Climate despair—a sense of hopelessness about humanity’s ability to pursue a sustainable future—is emerging as a psychosocial threat. Psychological science conceptualizes hopelessness as a cognitive schema characterized by negative expectancies. Climate hopelessness, then, may be conceptualized as a mental model that represents climate change as a massive problem with futile response options. It manifests in negative expectancies about the future. Here we show that learning about eco-innovations—novel climate-response options—can decrease climate hopelessness. Across 11 experiments (N = 3224), we found that adults (mostly from the USA) reported lower climate hopelessness after viewing videos that depicted eco-innovations (such as a high-tech, net-zero-energy city) than they did in various control conditions, including those that were unrelated to climate (such as a no-video control) and those that depicted more familiar, schema-consistent climate responses (such as living in a rural, intentional community). This research provides causal evidence that thinking about novel climate responses can contribute to a more hopeful outlook, and it identifies technological innovation as one possible seed for such messaging.