Abstract Copper or cobalt incorporated TiO2 supported ZSM-5 catalysts were prepared by a sol–gel method, and then were characterized by XRD, BET, XPS and UV–vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. Ti3+ was the main titanium specie in TiO2/ZSM-5 and Cu–TiO2/ZSM-5, which will be oxide to Ti4+ after Co was doped. With the deposition of Cu or Co, the efficiency of the CO2 conversion to CH3OH was increased under low energy irradiation. The peak production rate of CH3OH reached 50.05 and 35.12μmolg−1h−1, respectively. High photo energy efficiency (PEE) and quantum yield (φ) were also reached. The mechanism was discussed in our study.