June 9, 2022
A very warm welcome to Thursday’s Protocol Climate newsletter. (Warm welcomes are yet another impact of climate change. It really does touch everything!) Today, we’re diving into tech companies’ best tool to combat climate misinformation and the Biden administration’s new EV charging standards.
Tech companies have failed the climate misinformation test. So far, moderation efforts haven’t managed to stamp out everything from baseless denial to more subtle forms of misinformation that nevertheless have contributed to climate action gridlock.
A new report out on Thursday shows just how badly those efforts have gone. It also offers a handful of potential solutions, including the value of strength in numbers.
Climate change denial is pernicious and pervasive on social media platforms. This isn’t breaking news: Countless reports, studies and the Facebook Papers themselves have shown social media giants’ inability to combat this misinformation. But the new report from the Institute for Strategic Dialog and CASM Technology has some interesting insights about the problem.
Individual company efforts clearly aren’t enough. It’s not that platforms haven’t tried to quell misinformation; it’s that those efforts haven’t solved the problem.
So how about forming a supergroup? Or at the very least, a collaboration featuring guest appearances from the biggest platforms. There’s precedent for this from finding and stopping child sexual abuse material and countering terrorism. Tech companies have also worked together with the federal government on election security.
Tech companies still face a steep path to effective moderation. Terrorism and child exploitation are both universally (and rightfully) condemned as bad things. Climate change, though, continues to be a political football. And the ability to post without consequences has become one of Republican lawmakers’ top legislative priorities as part of the culture wars. That makes climate misinformation moderation the ultimate third rail for tech companies. But then, that could make more centralized moderation all the more appealing.
Electric vehicle charging is a bit of a slapdash affair across the U.S. right now. But the Biden administration is trying to help make it a little more streamlined. On Thursday, it proposed new standards for EV chargers to ensure people know what they’re getting at the pump — errr, charging station.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill continues to pay dividends. The package, passed last year, includes $7.5 billion in funding for charging infrastructure that’s to be distributed to states. Each state can decide what to do with that cash. But Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on a press call that the administration’s new standards will ensure “the [charging] experience is the same no matter where you are.”
Those dividends can’t be paid forward soon enough. EVs are hot commodities due to rising gas prices and plummeting cost of ownership compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. Interest in EVs is outpacing supply, but range anxiety is still a very real thing. Building out a standardized charging network of 500,000 chargers — the administration’s target — is a way to ensure that anxiety is replaced by sweet relief that you can get a charge and grab a bag of SunChips while you wait to top up. TBD on if SunChips are included once the standards are finalized … but they should be.
— Brian Kahn
For the last 50 years, SAP has worked closely with our customers to solve some of the world’s most intricate problems. We have also seen, and have been a part of, rapid accelerations in technology in response. Across industries, certain paths have emerged to help businesses manage the unexpected challenges over the last few years.
Some huge names in fashion are trying to clean up their carbon footprint, from monitoring their supply chains to creating high-tech materials. H&M and Lululemon are among the marquee brands that have contributed to the $250 million Fashion Climate Fund.
Ion Storage Systems, a company working on the holy grail of solid-state batteries, has closed a $30 million series A round.
Encamp, an enterprise company that makes environmental compliance software, has raised $30 million in series C funding.
Rheaply, a software company committed to helping businesses close the loop on a circular economy, has raised $20 million.
Zero-carbon “bio-cement” manufacturer Prometheus Materials raised $8 million in its series A round as part of its quest to clean up the building industry.
There’s a new weather forecaster in town. Salient Predictions raised $5.3 million in seed funding to bring its forecasts — covering anywhere from one week to 52 weeks — out to the masses.
The “C” in USB-C stands for “climate.” Well, not really, but it could! The European Union’s new law making USB-C the charging technology of the land could help us start to address the world’s e-waste problem and associated carbon pollution.
We’re on the cusp of producing green aluminum. A factory in Washington just needs *checks notes* access to enough clean energy. Ah, well then.
Tech companies can have their climate pledges tested. A new code and framework put together by the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative will put companies’ climate claims through a gauntlet to see what’s real and what’s greenwashing, if they’re willing.
Rooftop solar has been a lifeline in Puerto Rico. Nearly five years after Hurricane Maria decimated the island’s grid, rooftop solar installations have increased at least eightfold as a grassroots movement to keep the lights on takes hold.
The New York Statehouse is climate chaos incarnate. Less than a week after passing a crypto mining moratorium, the Democratic supermajority in the state Assembly killed a clean energy bill — and it doesn’t bode well for climate action in other, less progressive statehouses.
When companies invest in maintaining their “green ledger” with the same commitment they have to their financial ledgers, they will be able to connect their environmental, social, and financial data holistically so they can steer their business towards sustainability. At the end of the day, what gets measured, gets managed.
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