October 6, 2022
Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Why hello, Protocol Climate friends. We’re happy to have you on this fine October Thursday. Today we’re looking at a partnership to kill contrails and an EU law to kill the Lightning cable. (Don’t worry, your Apple Watch charger is safe.) Plus, a look at all the latest VC investments in climate. Join us, won’t you?
Contrails are sneaky bad for the climate, according to numerous lines of research. Now Delta is poised to actually do something to reduce contrails’ warming influence. The company has partnered with MIT to test if a few tweaks could decrease persistent contrails and cut the climate some slack. And Delta is open-sourcing the results so other airlines can follow its lead.
Delta and MIT have already run about 40 test flights to get to the bottom of a persistent problem. Contrails’ wispy look belie the fact that they have a potent warming effect by trapping outgoing radiation. There are a number of factors that can affect contrail formation, which the airline and scientists have been working to suss out.
The partnership is expanding — and it could lead to real change. Barrett said they’re developing a larger-scale trial to gain “real statistical confidence” that the system works and pilots are able to successfully avoid creating contrails. In addition, the team is working on measuring and validating how much additional fuel the flight changes will burn.
Reducing contrails would provide almost immediate climate benefits. Contrails — and their warming impact — dissipate within a few hours. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, stays in the atmosphere for centuries. Cutting contrails could reduce aviation’s climate impact by as much as 59%. That’s a huge deal for an industry whose path to decarbonization still has many other hurdles. And obviously it’s a pretty big win for the climate, too.
Read the full story here.
— Michelle Ma
Pour one out for the Lightning cable.
The European Parliament voted in favor of new charging standards that will require all phones, tablets, and cameras sold in the European Union to be USB-C-ready by 2024. The mandate will extend to laptops in 2026. And it’s sneaky good for the climate and environment writ large. (It’s a very sneaky newsletter today!)
The rule would help clean up e-waste. Sure, fewer cords tangled up in your junk drawer is a win on its own. But the European Parliament has bigger goals. Showoffs.
Apple, in particular, is in for a big change. The company’s iPad and various MacBooks rely on USB-C charging. But Apple has held steadfastly to the Lightning port for the iPhone. (The rule will also send the micro-USB packing, too.)
That also means if you’re a Lightning stan (which, no judgment), now’s the time to grab an iPhone 14 and stock up on Lightning cables. Because a whole new world of charging is coming, assuming the European Council signs off on the rule as expected.
— Brian Kahn
It's becoming increasingly appreciated among the broader business and NGO community that the planet and people elements of sustainability are mutually dependent, and as such a focus on one at the exclusion of the other will be fruitless. But balancing profit and sustainability progress remains a more thorny debate.
Long-duration energy storage company Form Energy raised $450 million in its series E funding round, led by TPG Rise Climate. The startup, which is developing unconventional iron-air battery technology, has become a climate finance darling.
Indian EV maker Euler Motorsraised $60 million in its series C funding, with plans to use the cash to improve its manufacturing and supply chain. The investment firm GIC Singapore led the round.
EV charging company Loopannounced that it raised $60 million: $40 million via a series A round led by Fifth Wall and $20 million via a line of financing.
LineVision, which provides utilities with overhead monitoring and analytics tech, raised $33 million in its series C financing round, co-led by Climate Innovation Capital and S2G Ventures.The renewables investment arm of Brookfield has committed $500 million to the carbon recycling company LanzaTech to fund upcoming projects in Europe and North America. The companies told Reuters that the capital commitment could eventually increase to up to $1 billion.
Once you go electric, you’re not likely to go back. That’s the takeaway from an analysis of vehicle registration data, which found that most EV owners don’t return to gas-powered cars when it comes time for a new vehicle.
Renewable energy and conservation goals can coexist. Solar and wind require a lot of land, but a new analysis shows how to squeeze more renewables onto less land in the West.
Child and forced labor are at the base of the lithium ion battery supply chain, according to an update from the Department of Labor. That's especially true for batteries made with cobalt mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as solar panels made with polysilicon manufactured in China's Xinjiang province.Seaweed could yet conquer cow burps. Yeah, yeah the promise of feeding cows seaweed to reduce methane in their belches has been billed as a climate solution for years. But Aussie seaweed startup SeaStock has made its first commercial harvest and it has “a lot of hungry customers.”
Currently, much of the ‘E’ in ESG is focussed on climate only, and it is essential that companies also focus on biodiversity, recognizing nature-climate linkages in order to optimize mitigation and build resilience. ESG will prepare us for the necessary paradigm shift, driven by increasing external pressures forced upon us as a result of short-term profits.
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