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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.

📷 Pro Rata Podcast digs into revelations that antivirus software company Avast has been selling the Internet browsing histories of its hundreds of millions of users. Listen here.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

Updated 9 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.