🌎 2021’s year of climate by the headlines #83
From 15 new climate unicorns to shareholders stomping big oil
Been a long year hasn’t it? If 2020 taught us about keeping distance, 2021 taught us about how much more distance is left to go – to get on the other side of COVID, close the gap towards carbon negative technology, and collectively worry more about our Earthverse than the Metaverse.
CTVC in 2021: by the numbers!
📰 74 issues published
👋 13,000+ new subscribers, 380 of you wrote to us introducing yourselves! Hi!
💸 127 climate tech venture funds, 41 corporate venture funds, 40 accelerators profiled in our lists
✅ 600+ climate tech deals and 1,500 investors tracked weekly
In this issue, we recap the year’s top headlines, from $555B in Build Back Better funding (even with Manchin’s slashing) to more than $35B in new climate funds. We also spotlight three more $100m deals into plant based meat, vertical farming, and ‘climate-positive’ thermoplastics as well as a trio of SPACs in nuclear reactors, recycling software, and plant-based plastics.
We remain ever grateful for your readership and we’re hoping you get some rest and escape this rest of the year - we’ll be back with more planet-positive goodness January 7th.
Editor’s Note: The climate tech community lost a real leader this week in Ryan Popple, who leaves a legacy through his work with Proterra and G2 Venture Partners, as well as his wife, children and friends - we mourn with all those whose lives he touched and are thankful for his inspiration.
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2021: A year of climate hits and misses
🦄 15 climate tech startups reached Unicorn status this year, adding to the existing 16.
💸 It’s never been a better time to be a climate tech entrepreneur, with more than $35B in new dedicated climate tech dry powder across 70+ new, dedicated funds and PE goliaths like Blackrock, Temasek, and TPG entering the ring.
🌎 The long-awaited COP26 led to wins and losses with US and China issuing a joint declaration to cut emissions, international rules set for carbon trading, and watered down coal phasing phrasing.
📝 The IPCC’s sixth assessment report heightened its language and rhetoric around the unequivocal and extreme impacts of climate change in the absence of rapid emissions mitigation.
🌡️ Extreme weather hit home in every state and continent - from record-setting heat waves and wildfires on the West Coast, historic flooding across East Coast, Europe and China, cold freezes in Texas, fire wind and dust storms in the Midwest, typhoons in the Philippines, and the list goes on.
🇺🇸 Biden rallied a divided Congress to pass some climate legislation as part of the $1.2T Bipartisan Infrastructure bill, but $555B in climate funding included in Build Back Better’s ~$2T agenda is still waiting in the wings (and likely derailed by Manchin).
👜 When all fails, turn to the power of the purse. Biden’s admin set forth a slew of federal procurement goals to make the government carbon neutral by 2050 and created the First Movers Coalition recruiting industrial titans to commit to using low-carbon products in aviation, steel, shipping, and trucking
⚡️ Energy markets were pushed past their limits with natural gas prices spiking to $190/ barrel and Texas facing a 30GW energy demand gap. Despite the energy crunch driven by rising global demand from lockdown recovery, critics laid blame on the energy transition.
🐄 Methane got a seat next to carbon at the GHG table after more than 100 countries representing 70% of the global economy pledged to cut methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030 (missing big culprits: China, India, and Russia)
💨 Carbon removal purchases were spurred by net zero commitments and hope for staying below 1.5ºC – growing the market more than $1B just this year and attracting corporate commitments from groups like Stripe, Microsoft, and Shopify
🌐 Countries boosted their international climate commitments with the EU pledging to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and China launching the world’s largest emissions trading program.
⛽ Shareholders fueled a big shift in Big Oil, with David (Engine No. 1) beating out Goliath (Exxon) in the boardroom, but beware the game of hot potato brown-spinning dirty assets into shielded private markets.
Deals of the Week (12/13-12/19)
🥩 Future Meat Technologies, an Israel-based plant-based meat producer, raised $347m in Series B funding from ADM Ventures, S2G Ventures, Tyson New Ventures, Rich Products Ventures, and others.
🌱 Infarm, a Germany-based urban vertical farming startup, raised $200m in Series D funding from Qatar Investment Authority, Hanaco, Atomico, Lightrock, and Bonnier.
♻️ UBQ Materials, an Israel-based developer of “climate-positive” thermoplastics, raised $170m in Series D funding from TPG Rise, Battery Ventures, M&G’s Catalyst Strategy, and others.
🚀 STOKE Space, a Renton, WA-based reusable space vehicle components manufacturer, raised $65m in Series A funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Spark Capital, Point72 Ventures, Toyota Ventures, Alameda Research, Global Founders Capital, NFX, MaC Ventures, and others.
🌱 Fulcrum BioEnergy, a Pleasanton, CA-based biofuel company, raised $50m in funding from SK and a private equity fund.
✈️ ZeroAvia, a Hollister, CA-based hydrogen-electric aviation startup, raised $35m in funding from United Airlines, Alaska Air, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, AP Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Summa Equity, and Shell Ventures.
💨 Carbon America, an Arvada, CO-based carbon capture and sequestration super developer, raised $30m in Series A funding from Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, ArcTern Ventures, Energy Impact Partners, the Grantham Environmental Trust’s Neglected Climate Opportunities, and Golden Properties.
🏗️ cove.tool, an Atlanta, GA-based sustainable building design and construction platform, raised $30m Series B funding from Coatue, FootPrint Coalition, Mucker Capital, Urban Us, and Knoll Ventures.
🚗 Hive Technologies, a Los Angeles, CA-based EV leasing platform, raised $30m in funding from iSun, Galway Sustainable Capital, LACI, and others.
🍎 Full Harvest, a San Francisco, CA-based imperfect produce marketplace, raised $23m in Series B funding from TELUS Ventures, Rethink Impact, Citi Impact, Doon Capital, Stardust Equity, Portfolia Food & AgTech Fund, Spark Capital, Cultivian Sandbox, Astia Fund, and Radicle Growth.
💨 Sweep, a France-based corporate carbon management platform, raised $22m in Series A funding from Balderton Capital, New Wave, La Famiglia, and 2050.
🌾 Greeneye Technology, an Israel-based developer of AI precision spraying technology for ag applications, raised $22m in Series A funding from JVP, Syngenta Ventures, Hyperplane, One Way Ventures, AGCO, and KDT.
🚚 Amogy, a New York, NY-based startup developing ammonia-powered shipping technology, raised just under $20m in Series A funding from AP Ventures, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, and DCVC.
🚗 Whip Around, a New Zealand-based fleet inspection and maintenance software startup, raised $20m in Series B funding from Punakaiki Fund and Amplo.
🌿 Provectus Algae, an Australia-based sustainable biomanufacturing platform, raised $11.4m in pre-Series A funding from Hitachi Ventures, Vectr Ventures, Possible Ventures, Acequia Capital, and others.
🌱 Hippo Harvest, a Half Moon Bay, CA-based controlled environment agriculture company, raised $11m in Series A funding from Congruent Ventures, Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Collaborative Fund, and Energy Impact Partners.
💨 Sustaera, a Cary, NC-based carbon removal startup, raised $10m in Series A funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures and the Grantham Trust’s Neglected Climate Opportunities.
🌿 Phytoform, a UK and Boston, MA-based startup using genome editing technology to improve crops, raised $5.7m in funding from Eniac Ventures, Wireframe Ventures, Fine Structure Ventures, FTW Ventures, Pale Blue Dot, Refactor Capital, Backed VC, and angel investors.
🚗 MoEVing, an India-based EV and infrastructure maker, raised $5m in Seed funding from angel investors.
🌱 IBISA, a UK-based agricultural microinsurance startup, raised $1.7m in Seed funding from Insurtech Gateway, Rockstart’s AgriFood Fund, and others.
💨 WattCarbon, a Lafayette, CA-based temporal carbon tracking platform, raised $1.5m in pre-Seed funding from Village Global, Looking Glass, Jetstream, Not-Boring Capital, Keiki Capital, and angel investors.
Exits & New Funds:
Ares Management raised $2.2b in funding for its Ares Climate Infrastructure Partners Fund.
NuScale Power, an advanced nuclear reactor company, is going public via merger with SPAC Spring Valley Acquisition, valuing the company at $1.9b.
Rubicon Technologies, a waste and recycling software company, is going public via merger with Founder SPAC, valuing the company at $1.7b.
Footprint, a producer of plant-based plastics, is going public via SPAC Gores Holdings VIII, valuing the company at $1.6b.
Shell acquired solar and energy storage developer Savion.
In the News
Senator Manchin played executioner to the single largest investment ever in climate. The Senator from coal country penned a statement stating that he would vote against the Build Back Better bill, citing surging national debt, unclaimed worries over grid reliability risks, and increasing reliance on foreign countries.
While the bill looks dead, the Build Back Better bill would have injected a clean hydrogen production tax credit, giving hydrogen producers up to $3/kg. Right now, green hydrogen costs $4/ kg and ongoing research continues to drive cost declines. This level of incentive could provide enough to make green hydrogen a reality today.
California approved a new net metering program that aims to fix energy equity issues for low income families—but at the cost of rooftop solar owners. Upfront investment costs make solar panels prohibitively expensive for low income families, making the energy revenues that rooftop solar owners enjoy unattainable. The program tries to even the playing field by shrinking energy value from rooftop solar, diminishing any returns on investment from panels and the rooftop solar market along with it.
New York City bans all gas-powered appliances in newly constructed buildings. While the Big Apple wasn't the first to enforce a gas appliance ban, the policy will have a resounding impact given 73% of the city’s GHG emissions come from buildings.
The European Commission announces their new Sustainable Carbon Cycles, their attempt to promote carbon recycling and carbon removal as one of its strategies to meet their 55% reduction by 2030 goal.
Stripe increased carbon removal commitments to $15m, with $6m to four new companies: 44.01, Ebb Carbon, Eion, Sustaera.
The FootPrint Coalition Science Engine launches to “fund risky research” in cellular agriculture, Indigenous futures, community science and EJ, conservation biotech, and augmented discovery. This approach mimics COVID Fast Grants that prioritize accelerating technology development, over rigor or process.
Caterpillar, BNSF, and Chevron are putting their collective engineering prowess together to pilot a hydrogen-powered locomotive, with Caterpillar and BNSF building and operating the hydrogen fuel cell-powered prototype, and Chevron developing the fueling infrastructure.
A group of climate veterans, including the likes of John Doerr, Laurene Powell Jobs, Sam Walton, and Hal Harvey, found The Climate Imperative, a new $180m foundation focused on climate policy.
While climate tech investing continues to skyrocket to the order of 200%+ year-on-year growth, there’s a mismatch between dollars deployed and 80% of emissions.
Grist asked 22 academics, policymakers, and founders about their climate predictions for 2022.
BNEF’s Nat Bullard drops 10 ideas and 10 charts snapshotting 2021’s progress towards deep decarbonization.
NYTimes’ 193 powerful visual stories on climate change watches like a very well reported, but entirely terrifying Tik Tok.
CarbonBrief dives into China’s updated 2030 climate pledge and what it means for its energy sector.
BBC ponders climate liability - should rich countries pay?
Elemental Excelerator CEO Dawn Lippert explains why community investment is crucial to bridge the gap between climate innovation and implementation.
Activists are ramping up - and winning - science-backed climate lawsuits against governments and corporations.
Carbon mineralization is kind of cracked.
So you want to dive into climate crypto? Start here.
Opportunities & Events:
💡 AirMiners Launchpad: Developed in partnership with XPRIZE and Creative Destruction Lab, AirMiners Launchpad is a 6-week program for teams or individuals interested in the $100M XPRIZE Carbon Removal. Apply before Dec 31st.
💡 Luminate: Apply by Jan 10th to this NY State accelerator for startups with optics, photonics, or imaging enabled technologies i.e. solar, batteries, energy, sensor-based tech. $100,000 initial investment per company with $2m in follow-on funding awarded at finals.
💡 Venture For ClimateTech: Join the Jan 18th info session to prepare your application for Cohort 2, offering up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding to help entrepreneurs take their climate solutions to market.
💡 Low-Carbon Hydrogen Accelerator: Startups developing technologies in low-carbon hydrogen production, storage, distribution, digital solutions, and business model innovations should apply by Feb 9th to this Greentown Labs program.
🗓️ URBAN-X Demo Day: Join on Jan 11th for demo day featuring pitches from Cohort 10 founders spanning food waste, infrastructure, clean energy, and public health.
🗓️ Vegpreneur Summit: Join virtually on Jan 29-30th for a conference bringing together founders, investors, and thought-leaders who are pushing forward sustainable, plant-based innovation around the world.
Research Associate @2150
Spring Associate @Burnt Island Ventures
Impact Investing Fellow @CapShift
Startup Portfolio Manager @Third Derivative
Impact Manager @Nature’s Fynd
Product Manager @ClimateView
Lead Mechanical Engineer @Yard Stick PBC
Embedded Software Engineer @Yard Stick PBC
Full Stack Engineer @Finite Carbon
Microbiology Research Associate @Kula Bio
Feel free to 📩 send us new ideas, recent fundings, events & opportunities, or general curiosities. Have a great week ahead!