Jan 29, 2020

Venture capitalists have yet to join Corporate America in tackling climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

2020 appears to be the year that Corporate America is serious about addressing climate change, but it remains unclear if venture capitalists plan to join the fight.

The big picture: Many VCs still have painful scars from the mid-to-late aughts, when they lost billions on investments in "cleantech" companies.

  • Those deals were largely based on a presumption that federal climate policy, if not also dollars, would move swiftly and strongly in a favorable direction. But that didn't really happen, and VCs became saddled with manufacturing-intensive businesses that they didn't really know how to properly manage.

To be sure, much has changed over the past decade. Renewable energy has become more price viable, there's a more comprehensive capital stack, and there's a wider supply of interested institutional capital (as opposed to before, when it was mostly fueled by a pair of large California pension plans).

But, but, but: I'm still not hearing much interest, outside of the few remaining survivors from the last go-around. And that's a big stumbling block, because fundamental climate solutions like carbon capture will rely on the very sorts of commercialized innovations that venture capital is charged with enabling.

  • And, for existing technologies that require greater deployment, both growth equity and private equity have key roles to play.

The bottom line: If Corporate America is really serious, beyond PR-laden lip service, then it must work to convince venture that it will be the change agent — particularly as a customer throughout the supply chain — that the federal government failed to be. It can be done, but it will take more than press releases out of Davos.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 5,931,112 — Total deaths: 357,929 — Total recoveries — 2,388,172Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 1,711,313 — Total deaths: 101,129 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. States: New York to allow private businesses to deny entry to customers without masks.
  4. Public health: Louisiana Sen. Cassidy wants more frequent testing of nursing home workers.
  5. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Chinese official's claims that coronavirus originated in U.S.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Twitter fact-checks Chinese official's claims that coronavirus originated in U.S.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter slapped a fact-check label on a pair of months-old tweets from a Chinese government spokesperson that falsely suggested that the coronavirus originated in the U.S. and was brought to Wuhan by the U.S. military, directing users to "get the facts about COVID-19."

Why it matters: The labels were added after criticism that Twitter had fact-checked tweets from President Trump about mail-in voting, but not other false claims from Chinese Communist Party officials and other U.S. adversaries.

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