🚜 ClimateHack Vol 5: AgriFood and Climate

PLUS: the $500 million fund to “decarbonise the real estate industry”

Hey ClimateHackers - sometimes I see posts like this and I'm reminded how far we've come in advancing technologies that actually move the need to better people & planetary health.

Then I watch something like this which reminds me that outside of our Climate bubble - there's still a lot more work to be done in bringing mainstream attention and action to the sector.

Maybe an undeniably hot summer is exactly what we need to push people in the right direction 🤷‍♂️

What’s in today's edition? 

🦠 The anaerobic bacterium that can store CO2.🏡 A $500 million fund to “decarbonise the real estate industry”🚜 Conversation with a Foodtech expert on why Food x Climate matters.

Digest x Climate

📈 Whats up? United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for “collective action” to avoid “collective suicide” as temperatures across Europe soared to unforeseen levels this week.

🔥 Climate tech startups are as hot as this years summer. Other markets may be slowing, but climate tech is bucking the trend and home to some mega deals.

📉 Whats down? A new report from Imperial College London claims that the amount of carbon captured and stored so far has been significantly overestimated, and governments should curb this with reporting frameworks.

🦠 Something cool: Meet T. kivui, an anaerobic bacterium which uses hydrogen energy to store CO2. Or listen to the sounds mushrooms make - it's exactly how you'd imagined.

Carbon x Climate 

💨 Swedish carbon accounting startup Normative raised €31 million Series B funding to help businesses on their journeys towards net zero through accurate reporting.

🍻 Diageo announced its plans to build a €200 million carbon-neutral brewery in Ireland, powered using 100% renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions by up to 15,000 metric tons each year.

Food x Climate 

🥑 A recent graduate from the University of Arts London’s Central Saint Martins College has developed the Ecovado, a sustainable alternative to avocado made from broad beans, hazelnuts, apple and rapeseed oil, all of which are easily found and farmed in the UK.

🛢 Green-On, based in Sweden, scored investment from AAK to support its technology designed to produce fats and oils without the need for arable land, bypassing traditional agricultural production to create raw materials from carbon dioxide, renewable energy and water.

📱 Online agricultural marketplace ProducePay partnered with climate strategies provider ALLCOT to launch a “first-of-its-kind” carbon offset program for produce growers, to help them generate residual income and make them more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

💡 Good Reads: Larry Fink, founder at BlackRock BLK, explains why we should be more worried about food than gasoline prices. And this Washington Post article on genetically modified crops explains why they’re the foods of a sustainable future.

Materials x Climate

🍄 MycoWorks has commercialised its first fashion items made with its flagship mycelium-based leather alternative, Reishi, in collaboration with luxury hatmaker Nick Fouquet.

👜 UAE-based Egyptian architect Nuhayr Zein has developed Leukeather, a vegan alternative to exotic leather, made with the dried pods of Leucaena, also known as river tamarind, which is fast-growing and requires little water.

🌿 A research team from Colorado University claims to have figured out how to make cement carbon negative through the use of calcareous microalgae, and has received a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop and scale up its solution.

👀 Check out Really Clever’s square meter of mushroom and algae-based biomaterial, which it took from raw material processing to being finished in a tannery in under a week.

Energy x Climate

🏭 Nuclear fusion startup TAE Technologies secured $250 million in a round that included Google and Chevron, bringing its total funding to date to $2 billion. It is planning to have a commercial scale fusion reactor delivering energy to the grid in the early 2030s.

🌬 Amsterdam-based green tech Sympower raised €22 million for its proprietary software platform, designed to accelerate the transition towards net-zero by building smarter and cleaner renewable energy systems.

🇪🇪 Solarstone, based in Estonia, closed a €10 million round led by Biofuel OÜ to further develop its solar solutions to help generate a shift in energy generation and usage.

🚗 Lithuania’s Elinta Charge secured €7 million to design and assemble electric vehicle charging stations, which also provide cloud-based intelligence for fleet managers, for residential and commercial use.

Funds x Climate

🏡 Fifth Wall closed its inaugural Climate Fund at $500 million, making it the largest private fund formed specifically to “decarbonise the real estate industry”, and will invest in software, hardware, renewable energy, energy storage, smart buildings and carbon sequestration technologies to do so.

🌲 The government of Alberta, Canada is planning to invest over $40 million in 11 projects focused on advancing carbon capture utilisation and sequestration. If successful, these could lead to over $20 billion in capital expenditures, create thousands of jobs, and reduce 24 million tonnes of emissions annually.

🇨🇦 The Canadian government is investing more than $8.7 million across 28 additional projects, focused on the adoption of clean technologies across the country, under the Agricultural Clean Technology Program.

Conversations x Climate: FoodTech, with Daniel Skaven Ruben

This week I reached out to Daniel Skaven Ruben, Head of Strategy & Special Projects at plant-based cheese startup Stockeld Dreamery. Daniel wears many hats; he’s an advisor to a bunch of foodtech startups, he’s a mentor at a few accelerators and he’s an operating expert to a couple of foodtech VC funds. He’s also the editor of newsletter FoodTech Weekly and co-host of The Appetizer podcast.

Biggest area(s) in climate you’d like to see more founders working on and investment going to?

Decarbonizing the food system. 

The food system is at least 25% of total anthropogenic global greenhouse gas emissions (some put it 34% or higher); livestock represent around two-thirds of all food system emissions. In 2050, there’ll be 10B people on Earth to nourish, and we also know that as people all over the world join the middle class, they tend to desire more animal-based, GHG intense foods. Oh, and we’re wasting one-third of all food produced. 

So we rapidly need to increase food production, shift to more sustainable and nourishing dietary patterns, decrease food waste, and protect biodiversity - while vastly cutting greenhouse gas emissions linked to food production. No easy feat.

But solutions do exist:

🥑 Startups combat food waste and post-harvest food loss by developing protective coatings or otherwise extending produce shelf life (Apeel, Hazel Technologies), improving food storage in developing countries (ColdHubs), improving expiration labels (Innoscentia), automating grocery store ordering (ShelfEngine), enabling dynamic grocery store pricing (Wasteless), sourcing ugly produce and selling it directly to consumers (Full Harvest, Imperfect Foods, Nilus), and connecting stores and restaurants selling unsold food products with end-consumers (Too Good To Go).

🌱 Plant-based, fermentation-based, and cell-cultivated foods offer pathways to reducing our reliance on ruminants to provide e.g. beef and dairy products (some well-funded companies in the space include Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, UPSIDE Foods, Perfect Day, Future Meat Technologies, NotCo, SuperMeat, JUST, The EVERY Company, and Mosa Meat).

🐄 Livestock production is becoming less environmentally taxing through e.g. methane-reducing feed additives (DSM Bovaer, Volta Greentech, Mootral, Blue Ocean Barns), better genetics, and more sustainable animal feeds (Protix, Ÿnsect, Calysta).

💨 Carbon sequestration is another hot trend; silvopasture enablers (Vence, NoFence) and regen ag platforms (Klim, Indigo, Agreena) help key stakeholders sequester carbon.

🌾 Alternatives to high-emitting nitrogen fertilizer are being explored (Pivot Bio, NitroCapt). The food sector also needs to shift to non-fossil energy sources such as solar and wind. Electric tractors and farm robots is one new exciting field (Monarch Tractor, Ztractor)

The food system is intrinsically linked to solving climate change. The solutions are there, but much more investment is needed to help transition the food system into becoming carbon neutral.

💡Daniel is a prolific foodtech pundit - follow him on Linkedin or via his newsletter FoodTech Weekly where he digs deeper into all things food, and foodtech.

Memes x Climate

I made my first meme - how did I do? 

That's all for today, have a great weekend, and see you next Friday!

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Curated by Nicola & Arman

Until next time 👋

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