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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Matt Peterson, a senior Amazon exec, joined the "Axios Re:Cap" podcast to explain the thinking behind the tech and commerce giant's climate venture capital fund, which rolled out its first investments on Thursday.

Why it matters: The fund, $2 billion to start, is beginning to invest on the heels of Amazon's late 2019 pledge to be net-zero emissions by 2040.

The big picture: Peterson, their director of new initiatives, made the case that today's clean tech VC investing isn't akin to the meltdown of a decade ago.

  • One reason, he said, is that it will help Amazon and other companies obtain new tech to fulfill emissions pledges.
  • “The way we are approaching this is from a demand perspective, not a supply perspective. We are asking ourselves, what does Amazon need as a company to decarbonize, then we are finding companies that produce those products,” Peterson said.
  • “We’re coming at it from the standpoint of, we will be a customer of this technology today if we can find the right company, and I think that’s a much more sustainable way to invest."

The intrigue: He said one kind of important tech they will be decarbonized aviation. "That is one of our biggest challenges, and there is really nothing out there today that can address that," Peterson said.

  • Electrified jets that could meet the needs of their operations are likely decades away, he said.

Go deeper: Amazon defends working with oil companies to reach its zero-carbon goal

Go deeper

Tech's biggest upcoming battles in 2020

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The most consequential stories for tech in 2020 pit the industry's corporate colossi against the U.S. government, foreign nations, and the human needs of their own customers.

Why it matters: Today's tech giants own and operate the informational hubs that increasingly shape our public and private lives. That's putting their products and policies under greater scrutiny than ever before.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine mandate after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks announced in a memo to employees Tuesday that it has dropped plans to implement a vaccine mandate for all U.S. workers, AP reported on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

1 hour ago - Health

Omicron hits American hospitals disproportionately hard

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

America is seeing more COVID hospitalizations than other wealthy countries during the Omicron surge, according to Our World in Data.

Why it matters: Vaccines keep the vast majority of COVID cases out of the hospital, but vaccination rates are also lower in the U.S. than these other countries.

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