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Expand chart
Adapted from IEA, with data from The Cleantech Group. Note: 2018 is through August. Investments include seed, series A and series B deals. Mobility service, internet-of-things, biochemical and AI startups are excluded unless directly energy-related; Chart: Axios Visuals

Early stage venture capital is increasingly flowing into electric vehicle companies, especially China-based firms, the International Energy Agency writes in a commentary.

By the numbers: Check out the chart above, which shows $3.45 billion of early stage VC money so far this year going into transportation-related startups.

Key quotes:

  • Venture capital investment in energy technologies is flourishing, with more money flowing in 2018 than in the first two quarters of any previous year.
  • But whereas the previous highpoint in 2008 was led by renewables — notably solar — it is now transportation that is getting all the attention, mostly electric vehicles.

Why it matters: At a time when renewables have become a mainstream electricity source, growing capital invested in the transportation space signals EVs are on their way to eventually becoming more than a niche market too.

  • The 2018 data — which IEA collected from The Cleantech Group's tracking service i3 Market Intelligence — continues a transport-focused trend evident last year and described in IEA's broader World Energy Investment report.

Yes, but: This month's IEA commentary by analyst Simon Bennett notes that the money's distribution is limited.

  • He cites the "willingness of investors — especially in Asia — to places a small number of very large bets on electric vehicle companies, which represent the hottest part of the market today."
  • This year has brought announcements of major funding rounds from companies, including Chinese-based firms Youxia Motors and Byton. Byton had announced $500 million in funding in June.

Go deeper

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

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Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

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Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.