June 16, 2022
Photo: Pius Otomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images
Hello, and welcome to Thursday’s Protocol Climate newsletter. Today, we’re talking about the sneaky problem with EV adoption in the U.S. and the bitcoin mining showdown in New York. Turns out politicians can flip-flop on an issue. Who knew? Read on!
President Joe Biden once declared himself “a car guy,” and his infrastructure priorities have backed that up. His administration has approved $7.5 billion in funding for EV charging stations nationwide as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, set a goal for EVs to make up 50% of new vehicle sales by 2030 and is still pressing Congress to pass tax credits for EVs and batteries.
But there’s something missing: what to do with the diesel and gas-guzzling vehicles being exported in increasingly large numbers to low-income countries. There’s a potential fix, though.
The U.S is a major used car exporter. While it’s tempting to think used cars all end up in the junkyard or meet their fate in a trash compactor, the truth is a little more complicated: Many get shipped overseas.
The EV revolution could make matters worse. The Biden administration’s goal of ramping up EV sales may make U.S. skies clearer and reduce the country’s emissions. But in the case of the climate and public health, out of sight isn’t out of mind.
The climate only cares about absolute emissions, and exporting gas-powered vehicles means carbon will still enter the atmosphere and cause temperatures to rise. There are ways to ensure that doesn’t happen, though, while allowing poorer countries to develop in a more sustainable manner.
Cutting carbon is a zero-sum game. And winning when it comes to transportation will require ensuring all countries have access to an electrified future.—Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu (email)
A New York bill that would hit pause on new energy-intensive crypto mining for two years has a new opponent. New York City Mayor Eric Adams intends to ask Gov. Kathy Hochul to veto it, according to reporting by Crain’s New York. The move would be an about-face from what he said just four months ago.
Adams said he wants to protect New York’s role as a leader in crypto, which he characterized as a fledgling industry threatened by lawmakers biased against it.
The bill does not constitute an all-out ban on crypto mining. It puts a two-year moratorium on certain kinds of particularly energy-intensive operations.
Mining bitcoin is a fossil fuel lifeline. It gives power plants a new way to generate cash and keep them up and running, but doing so could jeopardize the state’s climate goals. And upstate New York is swiftly becoming a major hub for crypto mining.
We might not see a decision on the bill until later in the year. Hochul technically has 10 working days after the bill’s June 3 passage to sign or veto it, but governors often bump such decisions until the end of the year.
The idea that politicians could restrict cost-effective online advertising and marketing is daunting. These laws could potentially cripple the way small companies like ours do business in this ever-evolving digital age.
Sustainability data firm EcoVadisraised $500 million in a funding round, led by the private equity firms Astorg and BeyondNetZero. The valuation makes it one of the sector’s first unicorns.
As if we needed more acronyms: The electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (eVTOL) startup Overairsecured $145 in funding, including from Hanwha Systems and Hanwha Aerospace. The money will be directed toward developing a prototype by 2023.
Xendee, a software for distributed energy planning and operations, raised $12 million in series A financing, led by Anzu Partners.
The floating wind technology developer Wind Catching Systemsraised $10 million in series A funding, led by GM Ventures, the automaker’s venture capital arm. GM Chief Sustainability Officer Kristen Siemen said in a statement that it’s a move that complements its transition to electric vehicles, and that it is “critical” that GM “simultaneously drive the transition of the grid to low-carbon energy sources.”
Looking for a job? Terra.do, a platform for climate careers, raised $5 million in seed funding, led by Avaana Capital.
Indian rooftop solar startup SolarSquareraised $4 million in a round led by Good Capital. Lowercarbon Capital also contributed, marking the firm’s first Indian venture.
Carbon dioxide removal operation Travertine is emerging from stealth with a $3 million seed financing round, led by Grantham Environmental Trust and Clean Energy Ventures. The company is angling for pilot-scale implementation in 2023.
In acquisition news, the charging company Blinkacquired the electric vehicle infrastructure companySemaConnect for $200 million in cash and stock.
—Lisa Martine Jenkins
Move over, net zero.“Real zero” is the new climate buzzphrase, and power giant NextEra has a plan to get there by 2045. (And a trademark for the term to boot!) The proof, though, will be in the pudding.
Reservoirs are tech. And they’re imperiled tech at that. Lake Mead and Lake Powell are approaching dangerously low levels as the West’s megadrought worsens, and water cuts are on the horizon.
New York lawmakers aren’t the only ones with crypto on the brain. Lawmakers and regulators in Washington, D.C. are also thinking about regulations, though they remain divided on the climate question.
Another day, another debate about offsets. The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity initiative is a watchdog for net zero pledges, and it’s trying to gauge the role of offsets in tech giants’ climate claims. The early efforts are decidedly mixed.
Texans should say thanks to wind and solar. Renewables are helping keep the lights (and AC!) on and lower power costs amid record heat.
Airplanes could see their first climate regulations in the U.S. There’s just one problem: The regulations don’t do much of anything to reduce emissions.—Lisa Martine Jenkins and Brian Kahn (email | twitter)
Internet advertising has enabled us to grow our business to what it is today, but proposed regulations limiting advertisers’ ability to reach target audiences would hurt media publishers like us.
Thanks for reading! As ever, you can send any and all feedback to email@example.com. See you Tuesday!