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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A group of energy industry veterans announced Tuesday that they are launching a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) aimed specifically at taking climate tech startups public.

Why it matters: They're self-branding as "the world’s first climate-focused" SPAC to launch.

  • The Climate Change Crisis Real Impact I Acquisition Corp. announced a $200 million IPO, with 20,000,000 shares priced at $10 each.
  • The new entity is poised to bring more capital into low-carbon tech companies.
  • Plus, some prominent names are leading. Co-founder and CEO David Crane is the former CEO of NRG Energy. Other co-founders include former senior GE exec Beth Comstock and John Cavalier, previously with Hudson Clean Energy partners.

The big picture: The SPAC, which is doing business as Climate Real Impact Solutions (CRIS), is looking at startups working on a range of technologies.

  • They're targeting sectors including renewables, grid stability, EV charging, climate-friendly liquid fuels, waste reduction, and sustainable farming.
  • They're also interested in the young but growing field of removing CO2 already in the atmosphere — an area also attracting investment from Bill Gates, Amazon and other deep pockets.

How it works: SPACs are public companies that operate as a shell, designed to acquire startups and thus make them public too.

  • SPACs aren't new, but 2020 has seen a burst of new ones and new deals.
  • Several companies in the electric transport space and other clean energy areas are going public via mergers with SPACs rather than traditional IPOs.

What we're watching: Who CRIS targets of course, and also other emerging players in the climate tech SPAC arena.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Jan 4, 2021 - Energy & Environment
Column / Harder Line

10 energy and climate issues to watch in 2021

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

From presidential aspirations to oil to corporate positioning, here’s what I’m watching this year.

The big picture: After the year that wasn’t, well, everything we thought it would be, 2021 will be a messy mix of the pandemic (still) and reviving all that it sidelined on all things, including energy and climate change.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.