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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A new nonprofit group called Climate Vault aims to offer reliable carbon offsets while providing fresh support for CO2 removal technologies and methods.

Driving the news: It's the brainchild of the University of Chicago team led by economist Michael Greenstone, who served in the Obama White House.

Why it matters: Offsets enable companies and people to help reduce emissions, but ensuring their integrity is notoriously tricky.

  • Climate Vault aims to solve this problem by tapping into regulated cap-and-trade markets — in essence fusing voluntary efforts with the certainty of formal permit systems.
  • The group calls its approach an "antidote to the frequent credibility problems and opacity of voluntary offset programs."
  • It then leverages this to support carbon removal methods that can complement fossil fuel emissions cuts to help reach ambitious climate goals.

How it works: Backers fund Climate Vault to buy emissions permits from cap-and-trade markets in North America, which operate in California, Quebec, and among northeast and mid-Atlantic states.

  • Climate Vault then takes those permits off the market to prevent industrial emitters from using them (that's the "vault" part).
  • The group then can provide those permits to providers of carbon removal services, which could then sell them back into the market to finance the efforts.

Where it stands: Supporters include the trading firm DRW, whose CEO is a co-founder, Vanderbilt University, investment firm TPG and others.

  • Supporters have already enabled reduction of more than 200,000 metric tons of carbon, "surpassing more than five percent of the total CO2 saved by all Tesla vehicles to date in the U.S.," the group said.
  • Advisers on the carbon removal side include former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
  • Forms of carbon removal include carbon mineralization, ocean storage, direct air capture tech and others.

Go deeper: Nonprofit Seeks to Trap Carbon in the Financial Markets (WSJ)

Go deeper

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⛳️: Golfer Bryson DeChambeau will miss Olympics after testing positive for COVID

📺: The Olympic events to watch today

🏊: Athlete spotlight — When to watch swimming star Katie Ledecky

🥋: Iranian defector defeats Iranian in taekwondo

🤖: The robot Olympics

🚨: Heat wave brings scorching temperatures to Tokyo Olympics

🎤: Meet the new faces of NBC's Olympics coverage

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Bezos beats Branson in space billionaires' battle for attention

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Imtiyaz Shaikh (Anadolu Agency), Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos' flight into space generated more interest from the public than Richard Branson's, and both billionaires overshadowed their respective space companies.

Why it matters: Data shows an outsized public interest in the personalities at the center of the space trips, compared to the companies behind them — which could reinforce public suspicion that the ventures were partly vanity plays.

Updated 5 hours ago - Sports

Swimmer Chase Kalisz first American to win Olympics gold medal

Chase Kalisz of Team United States celebrates after winning the Men's 400m Individual Medley Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Swimmer Chase Kalisz became on Sunday the first Team USA Olympian to win gold at the Tokyo Games.

The big picture: The Rio 2016 silver medalist's winning time in the men's 400 meters Individual Medley Final was 4 minutes 9.42 seconds. His teammate Jay Litherland took silver .86 seconds later.