April has seen a decisive change in climate change rhetoric as coverage in the news has stepped up, and the biggest civil disobedience campaign in modern British history has shaken London out of the daily grind. Whichever side of whichever debate you sit, environmental collapse is definitely on the agenda.
Despite this, major ripples in public consciousness are yet to hit the tech sector, and it’s been a relatively calm month for both cleantech and environmental tech news more broadly.
This is, of course, with the exception of Amazon.
Amazon – Mounting Pressure
Amazon started the month with what could be perceived as good news, announcing three new wind farm projects across Ireland, Sweden and the US set for completion across 2020 and 2021. This move was well timed given the criticism Greenpeace and multiple news outlets were laying at their feet for angling AWS towards the oil and gas industry.
The company was yet further in the spotlight when half way through the month Amazon saw what the New York Times has labelled the “largest employee-driven movement on climate change to take place in the tech sector”. Over 6000 employees of the tech retail giant signed an open letter to their board of directors demanding that they “adopt the climate plan shareholder resolution and release a company-wide climate plan that incorporates the principles outlined in this letter.” One can only hope in the light of this pressure their voices will be heard.
A day or two late to the party
According to the latest IPCC report we have 12 years to significantly cut carbon emissions, meaning that we need to start drastically doing so now. Regardless the news this month has been full of jubilant claims to environmental sainthood by tech companies announcing carbon neutral targets for well beyond the current shelf life of arctic sea ice. Verizon, US telco giant, has been the latest in such trends committing to going carbon neutral by 2035. Microsoft is driving for 60% renewable energy usage in its data centres by ‘early next decade’.
Setting a trend I’m sure we hope many to follow Thompson Reuters stands apart from this having pledged to be carbon neutral, and 100% renewable energy powered, by next year.
- $140 (Tyson New Ventures) in funding for Clear Labs, a food analytics start-up reducing wastage on production lines.
- $8.5m (Earthworm, Centrica, InnoEnergy, Crowdcube) in Series A for Verv, an intelligent home hub aiming to reduce energy consumption.
- $11m (Kurita Water) in series B for Apana, a cloud-based analytics platform working to eliminate water waste.
- $50m (Kunlun) as part of an ongoing series A for AI, a producer of AI based autonomous driving technology.
- $68m (BHP, Chevron amongst others) in growth equity for Carbon Engineering, a somewhat controversial (link) company fusing carbon capture technology with the creation of new fuels.
In addition to the above Avaada, the Indian solar energy giant, received $140m in funding from various development banks across India, Germany and the Netherlands.
I have huge anticipation for next month as demands build on the sector to take note of the turning tide. If anything (even if not the most substantial of changes a business can make) pressure to offset should help us see more green investment as we edge towards summer.