Stripe Climate is a new tool to let Stripe customers make carbon removal purchases

Last year, payments giant Stripe announced that it would donate $1 million of its own funds annually into companies that are building technology to remove carbon from our environment, with the recipients of that investment announced in May of this year. Now, it’s expanding that commitment with a new product aimed at getting its customers to invest, too.

Today, the company is launching Stripe Climate, a new tool that companies using Stripe can integrate to set up automatic contributions that are made as a percentage of each transaction — the company can set the percentage itself — with the proceeds feeding into an add-on pot on top of Stripe’s own investments in carbon reduction companies.

Currently there are four companies on that investment list: CarbonCure (which collects carbon dioxide and recycles it for other purposes, among other things); Climeworks, which is building carbon removal plants; Project Vesta, which has worked on projects like “green sand” to remove carbon on beaches; and Charm Industrial (converting waste biomass to bio-oil). These are “earthshots,” as it were — not completely proven tech that might be too costly to run if it does work — but as with moonshots, there will be a lot of capital needed even to see how and if they can get off the ground.

It’s also likely there will be more efforts added to the list — and maybe some subtracted — over time.

For now, companies using Stripe Climate don’t get a chance to choose how their contributions get invested: they basically mirror and follow the path of those being made by Stripe itself.

Stripe Climate is free to use, and Stripe said that the 25 companies testing out the service in a closed beta — the list includes Flexport, Substack, Flipcause, and OpenSnow — have already contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the effort.

“We built Substack because, while it’s easy to be depressed about the current state of the media business, we think there’s tremendous opportunity for those daring enough to be optimistic. We feel the same way about climate change,” said Chris Best, Co-Founder and CEO of Substack, in a statement. “We’re done with defaulting to depression. We want to help show the way to a better future—and better yet, we want to give all Substack writers the opportunity to join us. Stripe’s climate initiative is a gift because it removes all barriers to positive action. This program makes it easy, and valuable, to do the right thing. We’re proud to be part of it.”

Stripe Climate is playing on some important themes at the company.

Stripe — now valued at $36 billion — has made a name for itself primarily through a simple payments service that site and app developers can integrate by way of APIs, using a few lines of code. That has helped the company grow fast and pick up a huge number of users, from sole-trader outfits to much bigger businesses.

The company is using the same low-friction principle here with Stripe Climate: the idea is that while companies and individuals might in theory be committed to making investments in environmental causes, many don’t know where to begin, or how to do it in an efficient way. This gives them that way, having it integrated as part of its existing payments flow.

“A lot of the social issues dealing with right now are collective action problems,” said Nan Ransohoff, Stripe’s head of climate, in an interview. “Climate change is a collective action problem. Coordinating can be complicated and expensive. So can we make it easy to bring Stripe businesses together to make the whole bigger than the sum of its parts? If we can do it even a little bit we as a planet we will be in a better place.”

The second theme of this is how it fits into what Stripe is building on a more strategic level. Basic payments may be the company’s bread and butter, but on top of that it’s been adding a host of other services for businesses, from tools to help them incorporate their operations in the US, through to fraud prevention and analytics, and money advances and credit based on their existing activity on the platform. And the other week it also made its largest ever acquisition, buying a startup called Paystack in Nigeria, to enter more comprehensively into new geographies like Africa.

The idea is not just to make more money from their customers through value-added services, but to increase stickiness with customers, who might be less reluctant to switch out a simple API if that data is also integrated into a number of other parts of their business and how they operate.

Stripe Climate isn’t going to make Stripe or its customers any money — in fact, it’s a way for its customers to give money away — but it’s a very strong goodwill gesture that could go some way to building more loyalty and regard with its customers.

Ransohoff said that the plan will also be to expand Stripe Climate into a tool that these companies can also in turn offer to their own customers at checkout — not unlike the many offers you might already see these days to contribute money towards good causes when you are hitting “buy now” on any number of sites.

The Flume 2 Smart Home Water Monitor is a smart, easy-to-use and essential smart home device

Many smart home gadgets focus on convenience or automation of typically manual tasks, but Flume’s smart water sensor provides a potentially much more vital service: The ability to track how much water you’re consuming, and alert you to potential leaks in you home’s plumbing. The company just released its second-generation Flume Smart Home Water Monitor ($199), and the device is easier to set up and use, and smarter, than ever.

The basics

Flume’s Smart Home Water Monitor consists of a device you affix to your water meter, and a gateway that connects it to your home Wi-Fi network. Installation is super simple and requires no plumbing or any kind of home DIY expertise. The Flume app guides you through installation, and in most cases you should be up and running in less than 10 minutes — plus Flume has live assistance available via chat through the app in case you get stuck.

The Flume monitor provides up-to-date information about your whole home’s water usage, including any consumption from interior or exterior faucets, plumbing and fixtures. It can alert you when it detects suspected leaks based on water behavior, and help you budget your water use if you’re looking to save on your utility bill, or just conserve more water through more efficient usage.

Design and features

The Flume meter is a very impressive example of technology designed for use by just about anyone, anywhere. It doesn’t have its own display or interface, and instead works entirely through the app, but that simplicity is part of its genius. The water monitor itself is encased in a simple gray plastic box, which you attach to your water meter externally using the included rubber straps. All it needs is to be placed on the side of where your meter’s readout is located, and then it’s activated by you simply running water through your system by turning on a faucet. It’s reading the magnetic field generated by your water meter, which the company says can detect any water usage all the way down to one one-hundredth of a gallon — i.e. a slowly dripping faucet.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The meter is powered by four AA batteries that come pre-installed, and you can see the battery status in the app, but those should last a very long time. The meter talks to a Flume bridge, which does need to be connected to power but can be set up pretty much anywhere within Wi-Fi range in your home. The final component is the app, which is available for iOS and Android, and which provides a dashboard visualizing your usage, as well as push notifications you can set up for when the Flume system detects a leak.

In practice, set up is a breeze, and it’s truly amazing how much detail and information Flume can provide, given how easy it is to install and use. The data itself is also incredibly fascinating, and truly resulted in my being more aware about my general water consumption, how it affects my monthly utility bills and how I might be able to conserve water going forward. My home didn’t have a dishwasher when I originally installed the Flume 2, for instance, and I realized how much more water I was using hand-washing dishes versus putting in a small, water-efficient 18-inch dishwasher instead — which was proven out by the Flume data.

Bottom line

You might not realize you need a smart home water sensor, but Flume 2 makes a strong case for everyone investing in one. The simple, practical design and user-friendly app instantly make you a much more informed consumer of water, and can save you a bundle in the long run by detecting leaks early and preventing any more serious and damaging flooding incidents. It also just feels good to be aware of what you’re using, and being able to translate that into direct action to save a little water here and there, for the good of the environment and your monthly spending.

Jackery’s solar generator system helps you collect and store more than enough juice for off-grid essentials

Portable power is a very convenient thing to have on hand, as proven by the popularity of pocket power banks for providing backup energy for smartphones and tablets. Jackery’s lineup of battery backups offer an entirely different, much greater level of portable energy storage, and when combined with the company’s durable and portable solar panels, they add up to an impressive mobile solar power generation solution that can offer a little piece of mind at home for when the power goes out, or a lot of flexibility on the road for day trips, camping excursions and more.

The basics

Jackery sells the Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station and SolarSaga 100W Solar Panels I reviewed separately, but it also bundles them together in a pack ($1,599.97) with the power station and two of the panels in a ‘Solar Generator’ combo, which is what I tested. The Portable Power Station retails for $999.99, though it’s the top of the line offering and there are more affordable models with less capacity. The station itself offers a 1002Wh internal lithium battery, and 1000W rated power with 2000W surge power rating. IT has two USB-C outputs, one standard USB, one DC port like you’d find in your car dash, and three standard AC outlets. It has an integrated handle, a tough plastic exterior and a built-in LCD display for information including battery charge status and output info.

The Explorer 1000, on a full charge, can provide up to 100 chargers for your standard iPhone, or up to 8 charges of a MacBook Pro. It can power an electric grill for 50 minutes, or a mini fridge for up to 66 hours. It can be recharged via a wall outlet (fully charges in 7 hours) or a car outlet (14 hours), but it can also be paired up with the 2x SolarSaga panels for a full recharge in around 8 hours of direct sun exposure – almost as fast as you’d charge it plugging git into an outlet at home (it takes double the time, or around 17 hours, when using just one).

As for the solar panels, they each retail for $299.99, and fold in half for greater portability, and feature integrated pockets and stands for cable storage and easy setup anywhere. Each ways less than 10 lbs, and they offer both USB-C and USB-A direct output for charging up devices without any battery or power station required. It’s worth noting that they’re not waterproof, however, so you should exercise some caution when using them in inclement weather.

Image Credits: Jackery

Design and features

The Jackery Portable Power Station is a perfect blend of portability, practicality and durability. Its internal powerhouse will keep you going for days in terms of mobile device power, and it weighs only a relatively portable 22 lbs, despite packing in a massive battery. The range of output options built-in mean you can connect to just about any electronically-powered device you can think of, and three AC outlets mean you can power multiple appliances at once if you want to spend your juice on running a lightweight outdoor kitchen – albeit not for a super long time at that kind of power draw.

Jackery’s Explorer series features durable and attractive (insofar as any utility device is ever that attractive) exterior impact-resistant plastic housings, and they definitely feel like they don’t need to be treated with kid gloves. The display is legible and clear, and provides all the info you need at-glance in terms of reserve power, and power expenditure for connected devices, as well as charging info when plugged in.

The many charging options are also super convenient, and that’s where the SolarSaga 100W panes come in. These fold up to roughly the size of a folding camp side table, and have integrated handles for even easier carrying. They’re also protected outside by a tough polycarbonate shell, and the panels are resistant to high temperatures for max durability. They come with included output converter cables for connecting to USB A and USB C devices, and can be used with the adapter included with the Power Station to charge that either in tandem with one another, or on their own.

Around back you’ll find an adjustable kickstands, which allow you to angle the panels towards the sun across a range of positions for maximum energy absorption. Between these and the Explorer power stations, you have everything you need to set up your own fully mobile solar energy power generation station in just a few minutes and with minimal effort.

Image Credits: Jackery

Bottom line

In actual use, the Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station provides so much backup power that it was hard to expend it all through general testing. You really do have to plug alliances like my Blendtec blender in to make a dent, and even then I got roughly 12 hours of usage or more out of it. This is a great solution for taking some selective on-grid equipment off-grid while on camping trips, like a TV, small fridge or a projector, and it’s an amazing thing to have at home just in case of power outages, where having your own backup options can make the difference between getting through a productive workday or staying in touch with family.

The SolarSaga panels are an amazing complement to the Explorer, and truly turn this into your own mini green energy power generation station. Even if you’re not convinced on the expense and necessity of converting your home to solar power, using something like Tesla’s Powerwall, for instance, this is a nice way to power a cooler in the backyard effectively for ‘free’ when it comes to energy costs, or to extend the useful life of the Explorer on trips when you’re away from the grid over the course of multiple days.

The Flume 2 Smart Home Water Monitor is a smart, easy-to-use and essential smart home device

Many smart home gadgets focus on convenience or automation of typically manual tasks, but Flume’s smart water sensor provides a potentially much more vital service: The ability to track how much water you’re consuming, and alert you to potential leaks in you home’s plumbing. The company just released its second-generation Flume Smart Home Water Monitor ($199), and the device is easier to set up and use, and smarter, than ever.

The basics

Flume’s Smart Home Water Monitor consists of a device you affix to your water meter, and a gateway that connects it to your home Wi-Fi network. Installation is super simple and requires no plumbing or any kind of home DIY expertise. The Flume app guides you through installation, and in most cases you should be up and running in less than 10 minutes — plus Flume has live assistance available via chat through the app in case you get stuck.

The Flume monitor provides up-to-date information about your whole home’s water usage, including any consumption from interior or exterior faucets, plumbing and fixtures. It can alert you when it detects suspected leaks based on water behavior, and help you budget your water use if you’re looking to save on your utility bill, or just conserve more water through more efficient usage.

Design and features

The Flume meter is a very impressive example of technology designed for use by just about anyone, anywhere. It doesn’t have its own display or interface, and instead works entirely through the app, but that simplicity is part of its genius. The water monitor itself is encased in a simple gray plastic box, which you attach to your water meter externally using the included rubber straps. All it needs is to be placed on the side of where your meter’s readout is located, and then it’s activated by you simply running water through your system by turning on a faucet. It’s reading the magnetic field generated by your water meter, which the company says can detect any water usage all the way down to one one-hundredth of a gallon — i.e. a slowly dripping faucet.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The meter is powered by four AA batteries that come pre-installed, and you can see the battery status in the app, but those should last a very long time. The meter talks to a Flume bridge, which does need to be connected to power but can be set up pretty much anywhere within Wi-Fi range in your home. The final component is the app, which is available for iOS and Android, and which provides a dashboard visualizing your usage, as well as push notifications you can set up for when the Flume system detects a leak.

In practice, set up is a breeze, and it’s truly amazing how much detail and information Flume can provide, given how easy it is to install and use. The data itself is also incredibly fascinating, and truly resulted in my being more aware about my general water consumption, how it affects my monthly utility bills and how I might be able to conserve water going forward. My home didn’t have a dishwasher when I originally installed the Flume 2, for instance, and I realized how much more water I was using hand-washing dishes versus putting in a small, water-efficient 18-inch dishwasher instead — which was proven out by the Flume data.

Bottom line

You might not realize you need a smart home water sensor, but Flume 2 makes a strong case for everyone investing in one. The simple, practical design and user-friendly app instantly make you a much more informed consumer of water, and can save you a bundle in the long run by detecting leaks early and preventing any more serious and damaging flooding incidents. It also just feels good to be aware of what you’re using, and being able to translate that into direct action to save a little water here and there, for the good of the environment and your monthly spending.

Thanks to COVID-19, emissions and coal use may have peaked in 2019

If analysts from BloombergNEF are right, then all of the world’s most greenhouse gas polluting days are behind it, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A sharp drop in energy demand caused by the global response to the coronavirus pandemic will remove 2.5 years of energy sector emissions between now and 2050, according to the latest New Energy Outlook from BloombergNEF.

The latest models from the analysis firm tracking the evolution of the global energy system show that emissions from fuel combustion will likely have peaked in 2019.

The company’s models show that global emissions declined roughly 20% as a result of the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and while those emissions will rise again with economic recoveries, BloombergNEF’s models never see emissions reaching 2019 levels. And from 2027 emissions are projected to fall at a rate of 0.7% per year to 2050.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance chart predicting declines in global emissions. Image Credit: BloombergNEF

These rosy projections are based on the assumption of a massive construction boom for wind and solar power, the adoption of electric vehicles and improved energy efficiency across industries.

Together, wind and solar are projected to account for 56% of global electricity generation by mid-century, and along with batteries will gobble up $15.1 trillion invested in new power generation over the next 30 years. The firm also expects another $14 trillion to be invested in the energy grid by 2050.

The rain on this new energy parade could come from India and China, which have long been reliant on coal power to keep their national economies humming. But even in these colossal coal consumers the Bloomberg report sees good news for people who like good news.

They expect coal-fired power to peak in China in 2027 and in India in 2030. By 2050, coal is projected to account for only 12% of global electricity consumption. But even with the surge in renewables, gas-fired power ain’t dead. It remains the only fossil-fuel to continue to grow until 2050, albeit at an anemic 0.5% per-year.

No one should break out the champagne based on these projections, though, because the current trajectory still sees the globe on a course to hit a 3.3 degrees Celsius rise in temperature by 2100.

“The next ten years will be crucial for the energy transition,” said Bloomberg New Energy Finance chief executive, Jon Moore. “There are three key things that we will need to see: accelerated deployment of wind and PV; faster consumer uptake in electric vehicles, small-scale renewables, and low-carbon heating technology, such as heat pumps; and scaled-up development and deployment of zero-carbon fuels.”

And a three degree rise in temperature is bad. At that temperature huge swaths of the world would be unlivable because of widespread drought, rainfall in Mexico and Central America would decline by about half, Southern Africa could be exposed to a water crisis and large portions of nations would be covered by sand dunes (including chunks of Botswana and a large portion of the Western U.S.). The Rocky Mountains would be snowless and the Colorado River could be reduced to a stream, according to this description in Climate Code Red.

“To stay well below two degrees of global temperature rise, we would need to reduce emissions by 6% every year starting now, and to limit the warming to 1.5 degrees C, emissions would have to fall by 10% per year,” Matthias Kimmel, a senior analyst and co-author of the latest report, said in a statement.