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Forest fire in Riau Province, Indonesia, on March 1. Indonesia's fires have been an annual problem for decades, much of it human-made for more palm oil plantations. Photo: Afrianto Silalahi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

C16 Biosciences, a company seeking to commercialize a manufactured alternative to palm oil, announced yesterday that it has raised $20 million in Series A funding from backers including the Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Why it matters: Palm oil is used in a massive array of products — from shampoo to foods to biofuels.

  • Palm plantations are fueling deforestation that releases CO2 and erodes wildlife habitat in multiple countries.

How it works: The New York-based startup has a fermentation-based "bio-manufacturing" process for "brewing palm oil like beer."

What they're saying: "Consumers want to buy the products they love, but they don’t want to buy products that are directly responsible for climate change," CEO Shara Ticku said.

The intrigue: They're not alone in this space. Per Bloomberg...

  • "California-based startup Kiverdi Inc. is using microbes to convert carbon dioxide into an alternative to palm oil. Scottish startup Revive Eco is extracting useful oils from coffee waste and Indonesian startup Biteback is finding those oils in insects."

Go deeper: Automating food from farm to front door

Go deeper

Scoop: Politico stars plot new Playbook

Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Three of Politico’s biggest reporting stars plan to launch a competitor to the company’s Politico Playbook franchise, sources tell me. 

Why it matters:  Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan will launch a daily newsletter in 2021 as a stand-alone company, the sources say. In effect, they will be competing against the Playbook franchise they helped create and grow. 

Ben Geman, author of Generate
8 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Big Oil's big reckoning

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There doesn't seem to be an oil major that's got it all figured out between the pandemic, cloudy demand and price outlooks, and the unknown path through a world getting a bit more serious about climate.

Driving the news: ExxonMobil yesterday afternoon showed the latest signs of its struggle to position itself as it announced large write-offs and a big rethink of long-term spending.

16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Don Jr. tells Georgia Senate voters that Trump is on the ballot

Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui T./Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

In a six-figure radio ad being released in Georgia today, Donald Trump Jr. tells the state's voters that the U.S. Senate — and his father's accomplishments — are on the line during January's special election, according to audio obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Trump Jr.'s first of many advertisements in the Georgia Senate races argues the race isn't just about electing the Republican incumbents, but also about preserving President Trump's agenda.