💨 ClimateHack Vol 6: Carbon and Climate

PLUS: the Manchin-Schumer Deal.

This tweet really hit home for me.

- The climate crisis is only accelerating.- We've lost 420M hectares of forest since 1990.- 50% of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed.- Earth Overshoot Day has again come earlier this year.

But we're still funnelling talent and capital to building virtual yachts on the metaverse?

It's not for lack of opportunity - the climate sector is booming, fuelled by the biggest uptick in venture dollars we've seen, with jobs for all roles and levels of experience.

There's really never been a better time to work on the things that truly matter.

What’s in today's edition? 

👨‍⚖️ The US Senate's new tax, climate, and health care deal.🔎 Root Global emerges as the “carbon OS” for the food industry.💨 Conversation with German Impact VC, AENU, on Carbon Removal.

Digest x Climate

📈 Whats up? The US is set to plant one billion trees across millions of acres of burned and dead woodlands in the west of the country, as climate change and wildfires destroy forests faster than they can naturally regrow, or be planted.

👨‍⚖️ The US Senate has been working on a new tax, climate, and health care deal, which would see the biggest tax hike in years, aiming to raise an estimated $739 billion, with the revenues going to fund climate and health initiatives, as well as to reduce the budget deficit. 

📉 Whats down? The European Union has agreed to gas rationing as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine sees Russia stem the deliveries of methane gas to Europe.

🙌 Good news: UN General Assembly declares access to clean and healthy environment a universal human right.

👀 This is cool: Imagine if every city had these superblocks. More space for people and trees. This is interesting: Could GA drilling be the answer to our energy needs?

Carbon x Climate 

🖥 World Fund is leading a $128 million round for IQM, a Finnish quantum computing company helping to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in as soon as the next three to five years “for some of the early use-cases.” 

🪙 London-based Altruistiq secured $15 million seed funding for its carbon analytics platform, which aims to “change the standard on carbon reporting from a “carbon accounting and credits” approach to a “carbon abatement” model”.

🇫🇮 Finland has passed what is arguably the world’s most ambitious climate target into law with its aim to be the first developed country to reach net zero in 2035, and net negative by 2040.

🥬 Dutch startup Skytree has developed a method to decarbonise vertical farms, installing localised direct-air-capture units next to them so they can capture their own CO2, recycling it from the atmosphere.

📝 Carbon Wishlist: Climate VC Lower Carbon Capital put out their "Carbon Removal Startups Wishlist" which includes a roundup of areas (some moonshots) that they'd like to see and fund in the coming years.

💡 Good read: Bill Gates’ thoughts on how to avoid a climate disaster (spoiler alert: cheap, green hydrogen).

Food x Climate 

🥗 Zero Acre Farms is launching a cultured cooking oil that is healthier than alternatives such as corn oil, soybean oil, and canola oil, uses less water in its production and engages in no deforestation.

🌾 Irish agritech CropBiome raised €1.3 million to help farmers reduce dependence on chemicals and fertilisers, even in drought conditions, with its seed dressings made from microbes.

🧑‍🍳 Root Global secured funding to become what it calls the “carbon OS” for the food industry, with its software that helps companies up and down the food value chain get to zero emissions.

🧬 Moroccan venture capital firm UM6P Ventures announced its investment into Israeli startup Climate Crop, which specialises in plant genomics to boost agricultural productivity and resilience in a changing climate.

💰The African Development Bank is funding $5.6 million to enhance food security in Mozambique, whose agricultural yield is badly affected by floods related to climate change.

🖥 Watch: Check out this video on the global food crisis, explained.

Materials x Climate

👖 San Francisco-based Huue raised $14.6 million Series A funding to accelerate commercialisation for what it claims is the world’s first clean and scalable indigo dye for denim, which helps to avoid wastewater.

🥔 Aussie startup Great Wrap secured $11 million Series A funding to scale production of its compostable alternative to plastic stretch wrap, made with waste from a local potato processor plant.

♻️ Itero, based in London, closed €6 million to design and build the first chemical recycling plant in the Netherlands. Its recycling process turns plastic into “high-value chemical products”, which can be used in the production of plastic, which can then be continuously recycled.

👚 Solena Materials received strategic investment from biotech firm Insempra to accelerate development of its synthetic proteins for high-performance clothing fibres, which are alternatives to both non-biodegradable, petrochemical-derived textiles and animal-derived materials such as silk.

Transport x Climate

🚗 A student team at TU Eindhoven has developed a sustainable electric passenger car that captures more carbon dioxide than it emits while driving, by purifying air through a special filter.

🚅 Engineers at CO2Rail are working on plans to turn trains into “greenhouse gas vacuums”, with technology that means train cars that can filter nearly 25 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air for every mile they travel.

📱 Onto, based in London, raised $60 million Series C funding for its electric vehicle subscription service, which offers a different way to finance EVs and reduce the cost barrier to a sustainable future.

Energy x Climate

💨 Air conditioning startup Blue Frontier closed a $20 million funding round led by Bill Gates’ clean tech investment fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Its air conditioner uses a salt solution as a liquid desiccant to do the cooling and dehumidification work that is done by refrigerants, which are terrible for the environment, in conventional air conditioner units.

🗽 New York’s Office of Renewable Energy Siting has approved the state’s largest-ever solar farm, which will be capable of supplying 920,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity per year, enough to power over 120,000 average New York households.

💡 A study from Stanford University shows that climate-related disasters can be mitigated with existing renewable energy technology.

Funds x Climate

🥤 PepsiCo, Inc. closed a new $1.25 billion 10-year green bond to support eligible projects working to deliver key environmental sustainability initiatives, including regenerative agriculture, sustainable energy generation, and sustainable packaging.

💰 Southeast Asian climate-focused venture capital firm Atlas Capital is on track to raise $10 million for its debut fund, which it is aiming to grow to $50 million over time, to create opportunities for climate tech startups in the region.

🇬🇧 The UK’s National Trust, which is the biggest private landowner in the nation, has dedicated some of its $1.8 billion assets to “moonshot” investments in climate tech, including everything from low-carbon cement production to aeroplane fuels. 

📉 Climate tech funding has slowed down in comparison to the record-breaking second half of 2021, according to analysis from Climate Tech VC. Here’s why.

Conversations x Climate: Carbon Removal, with AENU

This week I reached out to Melina Sánchez and Till Thietje, Principal and Analyst at AENU, an evergreen impact tech fund building a new era of impact venture capitalism.

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

We – and the IPCC – believe carbon removal will play a critical role in achieving net zero. The IPCC states that “CDR is a key element in scenarios that likely limit warming to 2°C or 1.5°C by 2100”. Below we go through the what, why, how and who of carbon removal.

💨 What: Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) describes any activity that removes CO2 from the atmosphere and sequesters it. CDR is different from decarbonization and point source capture, and excludes any kind of carbon utilization that leads to the re-release of CO2 (e.g. turning captured CO2 into synthetic fuels and burning it).

🤷‍♂️ Why: Human activity has caused approx. 2,400Gt of CO2 emissions since the beginning of the industrial revolution (⅔ from burning fossil fuels; ⅓ from deforestation and land use change).

While the oceans and the biosphere have absorbed a large share of these emissions, +40% of the emitted CO2 remains in the atmosphere and causes global warming. Since CO2 has the potential to stay in the atmosphere for up to 1,000 years, CDR is required to remove legacy emissions.

Additionally, CDR will be needed to counterbalance residual emissions from hard-to-abate sectors, such as agriculture, even if deep decarbonization is achieved. In terms of scale, we will need to remove 10-15Gt of CO2/yr from the atmosphere by 2050.

❓ How: CDR pathways can be clustered into

  • Natural climate solutions (NCS) such as restoring ecosystems or improving the management of current land use

  • Hybrid solutions that leverage biomass, such as biochar or BECCS (bio energy and carbon capture and storage)

  • Engineered solutions such as DACCS (direct air capture and carbon sequestration)

None of these pathways is a silver bullet. Criteria used to assess CDR solutions include additionality, leakage, measurability, durability, and co-benefits. Limitations include total drawdown potential, cost, energy consumption, and technology readiness.

👉 Which one(s): Given the formidable challenge, a portfolio of CDR solutions will need to be deployed in order to reach Gt-scale, starting with readily available natural and hybrid solutions in the short-term and shifting focus to engineered solutions in the long-run. While we are excited about NCS and hybrid CDR solutions and embrace their technology readiness and the co-benefits they deliver (e.g. ecosystem restoration), we acknowledge that land competition represents a major limitation to growing biomass. We therefore also back engineered CDR solutions such as DACCS.

👀 Who:  Some of the areas we are excited about include

Electrochemical DAC and other energy-efficient concepts that have the potential overcome the bottleneck of energy consumption, such as RepAir and Mission Zero Technologies🌱 BiCRS (Biomass carbon removal and storage) companies such as Charm Industrial and Carbo Culture that deliver products and revenue streams besides carbon removal credits🌊 Solutions targeting the oceans, which store >80% of the world’s mobile carbon, such as Planetary Technology or Running Tide

One white space in carbon removal that we are interested in is carbon sequestration. While most companies in the space are either upstream (Climeworks) or vertically integrated (Charm), there are few companies who are able to partner with DAC technologies to ensure that their output is stored for centuries to come. Carbfix and 44.01 are two examples, but we expect more and more companies seizing this opportunity.

💡 Key takeaways:

  • We need CDR at gigaton-scale

  • CDR is not a substitute for deep decarbonization

  • Natural solutions aren't sufficient to reach the scale of carbon removal that is required

  • There is no silver bullet: investors should construct a portfolio of CDR solutions

📚 Reads

Memes x Climate

Me at the dinner table when I bring up the topic of climate change.

That's all for today, have a great weekend - watch this video of this cheeky groundhog, and see you next Friday!

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Curated by Nicola & Arman

Until next time 👋

Hack Ventures Ltd, Rue Mercerie 12, 1003 Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland