👀 ClimateHack Vol. 50: Sam Altman's new climate investments

PLUS: We need to talk about these wildfires.

Hey There,

This week smoke from more than 400 wildfires across Canada have blown over into cities in the US, turning the skies orange, and leading to “Code Red” air quality.

The air quality has been so bad in New York that residents are being asked to stay indoors and events (like our FoodHack NY meetup) are being cancelled due to health concerns.

Wildfires are typically the result of one of two key factors; lightning strikes, or human-caused activities (think cigarette butts, camping fires, even sparks from passing trains).

As this Twitter post highlights, wildfires across the globe are only becoming ever more frequent - caused in part to rising global temperatures.

In fact, a one-degree Celsius increase in temperature amounts to about 12% more lightning, and extreme temperatures and drought create a tinderbox environment leading to larger and more frequent wildfires globally.

Wildfires are a climate problem, they’re getting worse each year, and have massive repercussions - here’s a list of startups working on tackling the wildfire problem through tech.

In today's edition:

👀 Sam Altman’s two latest climate tech investments.
🇪🇺 The EU Parliament votes for required climate transition plans.
💿 Sweden's evroc raise €13M pre-seed to build the climate friendly AWS.

Digest x Climate

Smoky haze covers New York City on Wednesday. The Associated Press.

🧑‍🚒 As smoke from Canadian wildfires envelops New York, TechCrunch moots that it will spark a “surge in East Coast climate tech startups”, following the same pattern as on the West coast three years ago.

📈 What’s up? Data from Europe Earth’s observation agency Copernicus shows that the global temperatures in May were the second-warmest in thirty years, and Antarctic sea ice reached a record low for the third time in 2023.

📉 What’s down? Research from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University shows that these extreme temperatures are likely to increasingly affect crop yields in wheat-producing regions of the US and China.

🇪🇺 The EU Parliament has voted in favour of requiring companies to identify and address the impact of their activities and value chains on human rights and the environment, as well as a new requirement to adopt and implement climate transition plans. The new rules initially apply to companies with over 500 employees and more than €150 million in revenues, extending later to companies with over 250 employees and €40 million revenue. Non-EU companies with revenues earned in the EU above the thresholds will also be required to follow the rules.

Carbon x Climate

SustainCERT CEO Marion Verles

💰 Luxembourg-based SustainCERT secured $37 million Series B funding to bring its climate impact verification platform, which “enables companies to bring credibility to their climate impact claims”, to a global audience.

💿 Swedish startup evroc raised €13 million pre-seed funding and is aiming to raise a further €3 billion over the next two years to take on Amazon Web Services. It plans to use the funds to build a “cloud provider that's both greener and more sensitive to data privacy than the American giants”.

🍄 A new study published in Current Biology reveals that fungi store a third of carbon from fossil fuel emissions, which scientists are calling a “major carbon pool” that could be vital to reaching net-zero.

Food x Climate

Uncommon is working on cultivated bacon and pork belly

🥓 British cultivated meat startup Uncommon, formerly Higher Steaks, raised $30 million Series A funding, marking one of the largest rounds in the European cell-based sector. The startup is harnessing RNA technology to produce cultivated bacon and pork belly, and will use the funds to build a pilot facility. The funding round was led by Balderton Capital and Lowercarbon Capital, with participation from Red Alpine, East Alpha, Max and Sam Altman, Miray Zaki, and Sebastiano Castiglioni.

🍄 Leading mycelium technology company Ecovative secured $30 million Series E funding. It will use half to scale its Forager business into a world-class supplier of sustainable textile and foam products, and the other $15 million is being reinvested into its subsidiary MyForest Foods, which makes whole-cut bacon alternatives from mycelium and has just appointed a new CEO, food industry veteran Greg Shewchuk.

🇹🇷 Turkish waste management company Fazla secured $6 million at a valuation of $43 million, having already successfully saved over 58,000 tons of food from being wasted and prevented 83,000 tons of carbon emissions. Its tech network helps retailers, producers and distributors manage their unsold inventories more efficiently according to the food recovery hierarchy.

🏭 Spanish company BioTech Foods, wholly owned by JBS, has begun construction of “the world’s largest cultivated meat plant”, capable of producing more than 1,000 metric tons of cultivated beef per year, set to open by mid-2024.

Energy x Climate

BeFC Bioenzymatic Fuel Cell

🔌 French startup BeFC Bioenzymatic Fuel Cells raised €16 million Series A funding to ‘make electricity with paper and enzymes’. It will use the funds to begin mass production of its 'thin, light-weight and flexible paper-based biofuel cells that are disposable, recyclable, environmentally friendly and economically viable'.

🔋 About:Energy, based in the UK, secured £1.5 million seed funding. Its battery software solution platform The Voltt offers a comprehensive library of commercially available cells and their attributes alongside advanced modelling capabilities, to help manufacturers and developers to improve battery design.

📑 Edinburgh-based Carbogenics raised more than £1 million to turn difficult-to-recycle farm and paper waste, which would otherwise go to landfills or be sent for incineration, into a product called CreChar®, a carbon-rich, porous material that helps to stabilise the performance of anaerobic digestion plants and enhance green energy production from food and farming waste.

🏭 The University of Manchester is leading a £5.1 million international project developing a new pilot unit for producing syngas and pure hydrogen with nearly zero direct CO2 emissions.

💡 Good Read: Want to know more about fusion? Here’s a great thread from Not Boring explaining everything you need to know.

Metals x Climate

Magrathea CEO Alex Grant and their lightweight magnesium

⛏ San Francisco-based Magrathea raised $10 million seed funding to produce carbon neutral magnesium metal from seawater and brines. It will use the funds to build a demonstration plant to prove out its first-generation full-scale electrolysis cell and to build its first commercial-scale smelters in the US and Europe. The round was co-led by VoLo Earth Ventures and Capricorn Investment Group, along with a syndicate of industrialists & tech investors including Open AI’s CEO, Sam Altman.

💡 Interesting: CNBC visited green steel producer Boston Metal, which is backed by the World Bank and aiming to disrupt the $1.6 trillion steel industry.

Transport x Climate

Oxccu Founding Team

🛩 Oxford University spinout Oxccu secured $22.7 million in a Series A funding round led by Clean Energy Ventures. It has developed an innovative process to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen for industrial uses, including sustainable aviation fuel, and will use the funding to bring its product to market.

🛴 Indian EV startup River raised $15 million to support the launch of its first product, the Indie, an electric scooter which has covered over 100,000 kilometers in testing. It is aiming to sell 2,000 to 3,000 units by the end of the year, and 5,000 per month by the end of next year.

⛴ 67 British transport tech startups and initiatives, working in sectors such as maritime decarbonisation, local transport decarbonisation, and transport resilience to severe weather and flooding, have received a share of £2 million from the government’s Transport Research and Innovation Grant programme.

🛢 The UK’s first sustainable aviation fuel handling terminal is to be developed on Teesside, in the North East. The Lighthouse Green Fuels project will see approximately 1 million tonnes of nonrecyclable waste converted into Sustainable Aviation Fuel, which has the potential to reduce emissions by up to 80%, at the facility.

🚗 Toyota is set to spend $48 million to build a lab at its North American research and development headquarters to develop and evaluate the quality of its EV batteries and work on new battery configurations for future products.

Funds x Climate

Clara Barby senior partner, Just Climate

💰 London-based Just Climate secured $1.5 billion for its first fund, with which it will support growth-stage climate tech startups in sectors including energy, mobility, industry and buildings, having already backed Sweden-based H2 Green Steel and Meva Energy, along with Swiss EV charging company ABB E-mobility.

💸 IQ Capital closed its fourth and largest fund with $200 million. It invests in seed to Series A startups across Europe working within all areas of deeptech, including generative AI, advanced engineering, space tech, quantum computing, cybersecurity and synthetic biology.

🤝 Microsoft has partnered with Impact X Capital Partners and Spring Innovation to launch a programme to support Black- and female-founded companies developing solutions to improve water quality, speed up expensive solutions and decrease emissions.

📊 Good Read: Pitchbook released a roundup of the five biggest US private equity impact funds, which together manage a total of $21.6 billion.

Memes x Climate

Wildfires you say? I couldn’t notice them with my brand new $4000+ Apple Vision Pro’sthat deliver a 4k display and an all immersive experience to help me forget about the world burning around me*

*not sponsored.

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Editorial by Arman, Curation by Nicola.