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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.

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.

Bush labels Clyburn the “savior” for Democrats

House Majority Whip James Clyburn takes a selfie Wednesday with former President George W. Bush. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush credited Rep. James Clyburn with being the "savior" of the Democratic Party, telling the South Carolinian at Wednesday's inauguration his endorsement allowed Joe Biden to win the party's presidential nomination.

Why it matters: The nation's last two-term Republican president also said Clyburn's nod allowed for the transfer of power, because he felt only Biden had the ability to unseat President Trump.