Seawater and brackish water desalination has been a practical approach to mitigating the global fresh water scarcity. Current large-scale desalination installations worldwide can complementarily augment the global fresh water supplies, and their capacities are steadily increasing year-on-year. Despite substantial technological advance, desalination processes are deemed energy-intensive and considerable sources of CO2emission, leading to the urgent need for innovative low carbon desalination platforms. This paper provides a comprehensive review on innovations in membrane processes and membrane materials for low carbon desalination. In this paper, working principles, intrinsic attributes, technical challenges, and recent advances in membrane materials of the membrane-based desalination processes, exclusively including commercialised reverse osmosis (RO) and emerging forward osmosis (FO), membrane distillation (MD), electrodialysis (ED), and capacitive deionisation (CDI), are thoroughly analysed to shed light on the prospect of low carbon desalination.