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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amazon just named the first recipients of money from the $2 billion venture fund it rolled out in June to help companies develop climate friendly technologies.

Driving the news: Amazon, which has pledged to have "net zero" emissions by 2040, said on Thursday morning initial recipients are...

  • CarbonCure Technologies, a firm with technology that sequesters CO2 in concrete.
  • Pachama, which provides forest carbon offsets and touts use of machine learning and satellite imagery to measure and verify CO2 removal.
  • Redwood Materials, the battery and electronic waste recycling company launched by Tesla's former chief technology officer.
  • Turntide Technologies, which provides efficient electric motors.
“Today, I am excited to announce that we are investing in a group of companies that are channeling their entrepreneurial energy into helping Amazon and other companies reach net zero by 2040 and keep the planet safer for future generations.”
— Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

Why it matters: The investments from the "Climate Pledge Fund" signals how tech giants that have announced splashy emissions goals are taking more concrete steps to implement them.

  • For instance Microsoft, which in January vowed to be "carbon negative" by 2030, recently announced the first investment from its $1 billion "climate innovation fund."

How it works: Amazon said it's not only staking the fund recipients, but using the firms' products too. That includes using CarbonCure's technology in "many" of its new buildings.

  • Amazon is counting its existing investments in the electric vehicle company Rivian as one of the fund's outlays, but did not announce new funding.
  • In addition to staking Rivian, last year Amazon also ordered 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from them and plans to have 10,000 on the roads by 2022.

By the numbers: Amazon isn't disclosing the exact amounts of the investments, but they range "from hundreds of thousands in seed and early-stage investments to multi-million dollar investments," said spokesman Luis Davila.

What they're saying: “We witnessed the tech industry setting climate change trends with their adoption of renewable energy sources like wind and solar," said Robert Niven, CEO and co-founder of CarbonCure Technologies, in a statement about Thursday's announcement. 

  • "This investment in [carbon dioxide removal] signals a broader change for public and private infrastructure projects as industries and governments turn their focus toward the reduction of embodied carbon."

Where it stands: Other investments in carbon removal projects and companies are piling up.

  • This week the e-commerce company Shopify announced investments in CarbonCure, Pachama, the direct air capture firm Carbon Engineering and others in the "carbon removal" space.
  • In May the payment tech company Stripe announced its first four carbon removal purchases, while this summer Microsoft issued a request for proposals for carbon removal projects to finance.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Oct 30, 2020 - Economy & Business

The pandemic isn't slowing tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thursday's deluge of Big Tech earnings reports showed one thing pretty clearly: COVID-19 may be bad in all sorts of ways, but it's not slowing down the largest tech companies. If anything, it's helping some companies, like Amazon and Apple.

Yes, but: With the pandemic once again worsening in the U.S. and Europe, it's not clear how long the tech industry's winning streak can last.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Oct 30, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Oil group CEO on France blocking LNG deal: "We take great umbrage"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The CEO of the American Petroleum Institute criticized the French government’s move blocking a $7 billion deal to import U.S. liquefied natural gas over concerns about climate change.

Why it matters: The tension reflects intercontinental division over how aggressively governments and companies should tackle global warming, including the potent greenhouse gas methane that’s the primary component of gas.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 30, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Higher education expands its climate push

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New or expanded climate initiatives are popping up at several universities, a sign of the topic's rising prominence and recognition of the threats and opportunities it creates.

Why it matters: Climate and clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities are nothing new, but it shows expanded an campus focus as the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and the world is nowhere near the steep emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to hold future warming in check.