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Amy Harder interviews Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for the launch edition of Cipher. Photo: courtesy of Cipher

An energy coalition launched by Bill Gates is backing a new publication called "Cipher" dedicated to the coverage of the climate crisis, its new editor tells Axios.

Why it matters: The outlet promises to have complete editorial independence from its backer, Breakthrough Energy, a six-year-old climate advocacy network founded by Bill Gates.

Details: The new publication will be led by Axios and Wall Street Journal alum Amy Harder, who has spent over a decade covering energy and climate from Washington D.C.

  • Harder, now based in Seattle, will author a weekly newsletter and will host a regular video series. As executive editor, she will oversee all editorial coverage for the outlet. She plans to hire a staff that will help launch a full website next year.
  • The word "Cipher” means zero. Breakthrough’s mission is to find solutions that will take society from the 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases emitted per year today to zero by 2050.
  • For now, the publication will be made available for free without ads or subscriptions and will be fully funded by Breakthrough Energy. Executives may consider additional ways to introduce sponsors for its events and newsletters in the future, but that's not in its current plans.

The goal of Cipher is to support Breakthrough’s mission by providing objective journalism from a global perspective about the climate crisis.

  • Coverage will include everything from essential technologies for clean energy — like clean hydrogen and electricity storage — to how capitalism can help or hinder the technologies needed to drastically reduce emissions.
  • "Consider Breakthrough Energy the driver — and Cipher the narrator," Harder writes in a manifesto describing Cipher's mission.

The big picture: The past few years have given a rise to several new upstarts, collaboratives and content-driven non-profits covering climate change and the transition to clean energy, including Canary Media, The Uproot, Floodlight News, and Currently. They join a slew of existing climate publications, such as Climate Central, Inside Climate News and Grist.

  • Cipher plans to not only produce its own independent journalism but also partner with other reporters covering climate.

The Breakthrough Energy network includes a venture fund, policy and research enterprises and an initiative encouraging later-stage climate technologies.

  • Cipher is part of the network's latest expansion effort, but Harder says Cipher will cover the network and its partners objectively. "Practically speaking, this means our editorial leadership will have final say over our journalism," she writes.
  • "We will stress transparency, including disclaimers when we cover topics, people and companies that are in or connected to the Breakthrough Energy network. I anticipate disagreements and tension — internally and externally."
  • Bill Gates tends to be focused on big breakthroughs in technology to address climate, whereas others in the space are aiming to scale up existing and emerging technologies, like solar, wind and battery storage.

What's next: Cipher officially launches on September 29th.

Go deeper

Watch: A conversation on investing in advanced climate tech

On September 23 at 12:30pm ET, Axios business editor Dan Primack and Axios Today host Niala Boodhoo will explore how alternative energy investments towards climate solutions function in the private and public sector today, featuring Galvanize Climate Solutions co-founder Tom Steyer and more. Register.

The Exvangelicals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Even as evangelicals maintain their position as the most popular religion in the U.S., a movement of self-described "exvangelicals" is breaking away, using social media to engage tens of thousands of former faithful.

The big picture: Donald Trump's presidency, as well as movements around LGBTQ rights, #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, drew more Americans into evangelical churches while also pushing some existing members away.

Updated 7 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.