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E-bikes can save the earth

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Good morning! There’s nothing more satisfying than the wind in your hair (or in my case, what remains of it) on a nice spring day. While some folks may dream of rolling through the city with the car windows down or hopping in a convertible, for me, it’s all about the e-bike. And I’m not alone! I’m Brian Kahn, and if my music tastes are any indication, I died as a Victorian teen girl in a past life. 👻

Scientists say: Consider the e-bike

The world’s big climate report landed last week with a thud, forcing all of us to confront just what the hell we’re doing. Everyone (including your very own Protocol Climate editor) spent time diving into the big-picture stuff: Renewables! Speculative carbon removal technology! We love a big climate solution, of course, but something else stood out in the report: the little ones.

We don’t demand enough of ourselves when it comes to fixing the climate. I don’t mean that in the Big Oil victim blame-y way (we see you, BP). I mean it in the "we can do this" way. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report shows using less energy is our secret climate change-fighting superpower. And the ways we can do that are pretty easy compared to, say, sucking carbon dioxide out of the sky with machines that barely exist. Call me crazy, but it feels like we should be talking about this more.

The case for fewer cars has never been clearer. Transportation is the biggest chunk of carbon pollution in the U.S. thanks to the American love of the automobile. Look, I love a good drive up the PCH as much as anyone. And I fully support more EVs on the road. But the IPCC also makes it clear that we have other means to cut individual carbon emissions.

  • “Of the 60 actions we assessed in this report, on an individual level, the biggest contribution comes from switching to walking and cycling and using electrified transport,” Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, the vice chair for the new IPCC report, said.
  • Indeed, going car-free is the best way for individuals to cut their carbon footprint.
  • Switching to walking and biking alone would cut transportation carbon emissions up to 10%.

So, too, is the case for more e-bikes. OK, so we’ve established some very important ground rules here. More cars are bad. More bikes are good. I propose a new one: More e-bikes would be best.

  • The IPCC notes that micromobility in the form of e-bikes, e-scooters and e-rickshaws (don’t laugh, they’re a big deal!) is where the electrified transit future is happening “rapidly.”
  • That is a key trait when it comes to addressing climate change. Big Oil didn’t just go about victim-blaming. It has also spent decades lying about the climate crisis and fostering political gridlock, all while emissions rose. We’re at a major inflection point, one that requires unprecedented decarbonization speed.
  • While the EV revolution is certainly picking up pace, electric cars and trucks are a tiny portion of global auto sales today. Waiting for that to pick up when there are a plethora of e-bikes already on the market and ready to get us around in no-carbon style seems foolhardy.
  • Also let’s just be honest: E-bikes are cool as hell. I love biking in general, whether it’s a leisurely trip through Central Park or whizzing by suckers stuck in Midtown traffic. The only thing more satisfying than that feeling is whizzing by with an electric assist, courtesy of my local bikeshare e-bikes. I feel like I rule the world, and who doesn’t want that every day?

We should demand more from policymakers, too. If you, like me, would like to have this feeling of infinite power all the time, then it’s going to mean putting a little pressure on the powers that be. The IPCC is real about this, and we should be too: It’s going to take a wholesale overhaul of society to address climate change. When it comes to e-bikes becoming the norm, there are manifold ways to make that rapid transition even faster.

  • Our cities need to suck less. A lot less. The IPCC notes that smart city planning could put e-bikes and e-scooters as a “centre-piece” (I know, so British) of a system that values no-carbon transport for the masses.
  • That means turning more streets over to the people and not the cars. The IPCC calls this “fair street allocation.”
  • It also means more dense developments, allowing people to get around on bikes in the first place. I’m lucky in New York, but not everyone else has the same ability to e-bike to the grocery store, work and their favorite bar (responsibly!). Fixing zoning would do wonders for e-bike adoption.
  • Getting more bikeshares in more places is also a huge development. The IPCC notes that shared mobility, whether bikes or cars (sigh), is “arguably the most rapidly growing and evolving sector of the sharing economy.” Grow it some more!
  • If you’d rather own your own e-bike, that’s fine, too. No shade. To ensure more people can afford them, companies could subsidize them for employees as part of their transit benefits — and some tech giants are already doing this. Congress could also step in by offering rebates.

In fact, Rep. Earl Blumenauer has tried to pass a bill that would do just that for years. He hasn’t succeeded — yet. The odds are long to pass the House, let alone the Senate where Sen. Joe Manchin and 50 Republicans have stood in the way of climate action. The IPCC alone surely won’t convince them, so I invite them all to join me on an e-bike sprint through Midtown anytime. Assuming they’re not too cowardly to accept, I’m confident they’ll see the future is already here: It just needs to be more evenly distributed.

— Brian Kahn (email | twitter)

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People are talking

Parag Agrawal may have meant something when he said Elon Musk needed a background check, applied ethics leader Ann Skeet said:

  • "Elon Musk might be the kind of person who's not willing to submit themselves to that kind of review — and that unwillingness to participate in the fundamental processes of being screened and selected to a board is a flag."

Before COVID-19, Eric Schmidt said he was once able to talk to young workers about professionalism in the office:

  • “And I used to say to them, ‘This is not college. This is a professional thing, you can’t do that. And, or, it might be illegal. So please stop, now.’”

Susan Wojcicki said YouTube’s NFT push will help smaller creators monetize:

  • “At the end of the day, what YouTube does, is we’re a platform that distributes content and monetization."

Making moves

Sonos bought Mayht Holding BV, which works on audio transducers, for about $100 million.

Thoma Bravo is buying SailPoint, which offers identity and access management software, for $6.9 billion.

Epic raised $2 billion in new funding, thanks to investments from Sony and Kirkbi. The new funding will bolster Epic’s metaverse plans.

Ripsy Bandourian is Plaid’s new head of Europe. She last worked at Booking.com as VP of Global Accommodation Partnerships.

Kristen Hines is Activision Blizzard’s new chief DEI officer. Hines is an ex-Accenture exec.

Javier Manzanares is ClimateCoin’s new co-CEO. Manzanares previously worked at the Green Climate Fund as deputy executive director.

Ben Barrett joined Starry as VP of Investor Relations. Barrett most recently led investor relations at Compass.

In other news

Google is on board with the Silenced No More Act. The company wrote in a proxy statement that workers who signed NDAs can still talk about harassment, assault and other violations.

Meta’s paying more than ever before to keep Mark Zuckerberg safe. The company spent $26.8 million on security for Zuckerberg and his family in 2021, a 6% increase from 2020.

iPhone maker Pegatron stopped production at two plants in China because of COVID-19-related lockdowns. Pegatron is waiting on the government’s word to start back up again.

Shopify is planning a 10-for-one stock split and wants a “founder share” for CEO Tobi Lutke to get more voting power.

Twitter called off its AMA with Elon Musk. Employees also got yesterday off as a monthly day of rest. Perfect timing.

Google is suing an alleged puppy scammer, claiming a person took money for basset hounds and other “adorable puppies” that were never delivered. And the company said there will be more consumer-protection lawsuits on the way.

Expect TikTok’s ad revenue to explode this year. A research firm predicted the platform’s ad revenue will triple to more than $11 billion in 2022.

Bored Apes are heading to the big screen. They’re getting a trilogy of short films called “The Degen Trilogy,” which will premiere during NFT.NYC this summer.

Alexa, grow a tree. Amazon customers in the U.S. can now donate $1 to plant a tree using that Alexa command, and Amazon is giving $1 million to the group doing the tree planting.

How Netflix tests Netflix

Netflix once thought adding a heart reaction to content would let users show their true love for something. But A/B testing indicated otherwise.

The streaming service has toyed with its rating system for a while. It once used a five-star rating system and played around with an applause icon and shooting stars before deciding between a heart or two thumbs up. The platform thought the heart would win; A/B tests showed that people liked two thumbs better. Who would’ve thought!

A MESSAGE FROM CLARI

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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

Correction: An earlier version of this story referenced Sony instead of Sonos. This story was updated on April 12, 2022.

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