The Climate Choice wants to make supply chain emissions more visible and more green

The World Economic Forum says that so-called ‘Scope 3 emissions,’ – or CO2 in supply chains  – can make up as much as 90% of a company’s carbon footprint and worldwide more than half of all emissions can be traced back to only a handful of supply chains. Tracking and reducing these emissions are easier said than done; and if you can’t track it, you can’t improve it. Berlin-Based startup, The Climate Choice closed a $2 million round to help companies cut a chunk of their carbon out of that part of their emissions, too.

“In 2014 I experienced the problem firsthand when I attempted to reduce the climate impact of my first company, Resmio, by sourcing products from climate-friendly suppliers. The task proved impossible for someone who was not a climate expert,” explains The Climate Choice CEO and Co-Founder, Yasha Tarani. “Following the sale of Resmio, I took a sabbatical and witnessed the catastrophic effects of climate change first hand. In Delhi I arrived to 122-degree temperatures with people sleeping on the streets, in Thailand my hut was lost to floods, and in New Zealand I saw the glow of bushfires on the horizon. I decided then to dedicate my life’s work to reversing the degradation of our planet.”


Tarani combined forces with co-founder Lara Obst, who had built what she refers to as the EU’s leading climate innovation program. Together, they decided to focus on decarbonizing corporate supply chains, along with a third partner – data scientist Dr. Rey Farhan, who had most recently been working on data-heavy products for the financial industry.

The $2 million equity financing round was led by Gutter Capital.

“We believe the world is at a turning point. Starting in 2024, approximately 49,000 companies will be required to disclose Scope 3 emissions data in compliance with the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. We believe that The Climate Choice is positioned to be the partner of choice to help these companies rise to the moment,” explains Tarani. “We have already seen the success of our platform with our customers in simplifying data collection and collaboration with suppliers, and we are excited to empower companies around the world to make climate-relevant procurement decisions.”

The company has built a platform that helps companies understand the emissions of their suppliers, acquire audit-ready data, and take actions to decarbonize the supply chain. The product is currently in use by several early customers, including O2 Telefonica and HiPP. The company says it is actively monitoring thousands of suppliers.


“Our mission is to empower every company to be a climate champion. We believe that now more than ever that mission is in reach. Today about half of European companies have a climate transition plan in place, but less than 5% of those companies show the readiness required to achieve those plans. We believe that TCC will fundamentally change this,” says Tarani. “Ten years from now our platform will automate supplier engagement for the world’s largest companies, and all companies will have access to real-time supplier data to empower informed decision making.”

The company is adamant that it isn’t a carbon accounting platform, but something different altogether.

“Traditional carbon accounting practices rely on averages and assumptions to calculate supplier emissions. This approach is helpful to infer a rough carbon footprint and understand hotspots, but because every supplier within a category looks the same, it is useless for actually making choices to decarbonize,” Tarani explains. “TCC starts where the carbon accounting typically ends. Our platform automates supplier outreach and generates real primary data profiles on supplier emissions and practices. Supplier profiles are shared openly within our network, so that work is not duplicated across firms. Armed with comprehensive supplier data, companies can compare suppliers, and make informed procurement decisions to decarbonize their supply chain.”

The Climate Choice wants to make supply chain emissions more visible and more green by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch

Tesla has a home battery to sell you, with or without solar

Tesla is opening up Powerwall home battery sales, nearly two years after limiting them because its supply was “too low.”

Tesla announced its backup battery tech long ago, in 2015, explicitly intending for the product to work in tandem with solar panels. Yet up until 2021, the automaker also allowed folks to buy the big batteries separately. Eventually, Elon Musk clarified that supply issues were to blame for the restrictions, but the executive teased in 2022 that “ordering a Powerwall by itself should be possible” by the end of the year.

Some months apparently behind schedule, this is now happening — with caveats.

Tesla said this week that it is now selling Powerwalls separately “in select US markets.” The company hasn’t put out an official list of these markets, as far as we can tell, but its website offers a way for prospective shoppers to see if their address has been whitelisted.

For example: I typed in my Los Angeles address, and Tesla’s site responded: “We’re assessing where to service next. Reserve your Powerwall to help us expand into your area.” However, the device does seem to be available separately in other areas, such as Austin, Texas.

Tesla’s focus on Texas is no coincidence. The company relocated to Austin in 2021. A year later, Tesla launched its invite-only electric plan in parts of Texas where retail choice is available, including Houston and Dallas. As we wrote in December, the plan is called Tesla Electric and it’s exclusively available to Powerwall havers. Tesla recently told investors that it intends to expand its electric plan to other markets, but the company was vague about it, like always. With that in mind, it’s plausible that Tesla is doing this as part of its plan to grow Tesla Electric.

You might be wondering, “Why would someone want a Powerwall sans solar? The stand-alone device could be appealing to folks who aren’t in an ideal spot for sun, or for those who don’t want to pay for solar and a home battery all at once. As we observed at CES 2023, lots of companies seem to believe that demand for backup batteries and generators is on the rise — and surely extreme weather events linked to climate change could be driving interest.

Tesla has a home battery to sell you, with or without solar by Harri Weber originally published on TechCrunch

Rethink rethinks mobility and logistics with new €50M fund

Rethink Ventures just announced a €50 million specialist fund focused on mobility, automotive and logistics. With keywords “clean, safe, and digital,” the Munich-based firm is focusing especially on Europe-based startups at the early stage, stretching into Series A financing. LPs include ZF Ventures, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, KION Group, Berylls and HAVI, as well as the European Investment Fund and a handful of family offices.

“The transportation sector faces significant challenges as the global demand for mobility and logistics continues to grow. With more than 25% of greenhouse gas emissions coming from this sector and additional negative externalities such as congestion and the significant usage of physical space, there is a lot of pressure to rapidly change the way we move people and goods,” says Jens-Philipp Klein, general partner at Rethink. “Our mission is to back early-stage startups that address these challenges and help them scale their technologies and products using our capital, deep expertise and access to a strong network of corporates. Together with all stakeholders in the industry, we aim to foster solutions that eventually will provide clean, digital and safe mobility for everyone.”

The fund says that its top priority is to provide unparalleled support to its portfolio companies while adding long-term value to their corporate partners, creating a mutually beneficial ecosystem that creates a positive impact for all.

The fund’s thesis-driven investment focus is on next-generation vehicle technologies (software defined, autonomously operated, new powertrains), mobility (providing comfortable, safe and affordable mobility for everyone), logistics (digital, automated and sustainable operations) and energy (infrastructure to power a clean, emission-free future of transportation).

The new fund has made three investments to date: Deftpower, an automotive charging platform that enables companies to launch, manage and scale electric charging offerings to their customers; Shipzero, a data-driven platform to measure and reduce CO2 emissions in global freight transportation; and Rydes, a SaaS solution for corporations to foster sustainable employee mobility by giving their employees access to various transport offerings.

Rethink rethinks mobility and logistics with new €50M fund by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch

Aether wants to shift you from blood diamonds to gems pulled from thin air

Diamonds: carbon, transparent, expensive, symbolic of love and commitment — and many of them come dripping with human rights abuses. They also come with a heavy environmental burden, even the lab-grown ones. So what if diamonds could be done differently, with proper traceability and sustainability? That’s exactly where Aether, a diamond-growing company based in New York, is trying to change the narrative around diamonds.

“The only thing transparent in this industry are the stones,” says Ryan Shearman, CEO of Aether Diamonds in an interview with TechCrunch. “There is no supply chain on planet Earth that’s fully traceable with respect to mined diamonds. And the same goes for a lab-grown diamond; it’s better when you’re talking about a lab-grown diamond, but it’s still nowhere near fully traceable.”

Although people are more aware of the human impact of diamond mining, and terms such as “blood diamond” or “conflict diamond” are well recognized, the environmental impact of diamond mining is enormous and perhaps a little less well-known.

“Diamonds are particularly bad in terms of the ratio of earth that needs to be moved, compared to the actual product that makes it to market. For one carat worth of diamond, you have to move about as much earth that it takes to fill up the average American living room,” says Shearman. Of course, it isn’t just the scarification of the landscape, but the vast quantities of energy required to excavate and relocate that earth, the particulates released into the atmosphere in the process, the toxic waste it generates and the residues collected in tailing ponds or that run off into waterways. Then there are accidents associated with the mines themselves, or their aftermath.

If we have to have diamonds, there must be a better way — and that’s where Aether steps in. Aether’s direct air capture process builds on a CO2 to methane conversion reaction discovered by French chemist Paul Sabatier, but one that required enormous refinement to ensure that it was energy efficient.

Aether’s diamond-growing process takes carbon dioxide from the air, which it then synthesizes into the hydrocarbon material required to grow diamonds. This hydrocarbon feedstock, or Atmospheric Methane, as the company calls it, is injected into a chemical vapor deposition reactor, where the diamond grows, one atom layer at a time. The fully grown diamonds don’t emerge from the chamber ready to be set into engagement rings or pairs of earrings. They are still rough, requiring to be cut, polished and finished. But, they have been extracted from the air, are fully traceable, and are carbon neutral.

“We can tell you where every carbon atom in your diamond came from, and we can trace the path of that carbon atom all the way through to final sale,” says Shearman.

But carbon neutral? Isn’t that a bit of a stretch for a process that requires so much energy, even when you are extracting carbon from the atmosphere to produce the diamond itself?

“From a sequestration standpoint, we would have to make a lot of diamonds to drive a huge impact. Where we have our biggest impact with diamonds is avoidance, we get to avoid all of the really terrible things that are happening with these other dirtier lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds,” says Shearman, acknowledging that even lab-grown diamonds are an energy-hungry resource and can be terrible for the environment if that energy comes from, say, coal-fired power stations. Aether, though, claims that its production is entirely solar-energy run.

“We rely on solar, we invest in new solar development,” Shearman said. “Our manufacturing process nets out so that it’s carbon neutral, up to the point of producing the actual gemstone, not including the carbon that goes into gemstones. Any carbon that goes into the stone then takes us kind of over that threshold into carbon negative territory.” And Aether’s focus on carbon neutrality has further benefits than just its own diamond production business, too: “We are helping promote the expansion of renewables here in the States, especially in areas of the country that are currently underserved.”

Shearman says that the mythology around diamonds, around a glittering stone forged in the heat of the belly of the earth, is a romantic narrative that’s hard to overcome with a stone grown in a lab. But he senses that there’s a new story-telling opportunity here. First, it builds on the environmental and human costs that a lab-grown diamond obviates, and second, it encourages potential customers to think about a lab-grown diamond as a bit like vintage wine.

“The journey that the carbon has taken is really important for us and leans in on provenance. There’s never been a Paris diamond; there’s never been a New York City diamond, or diamond from May, or diamond from September.” Now, there can be.

For Shearman, the technology Aether is platforming is about a lot more than diamonds, though.

“We’re a carbon technology company. And we specialize in making ultra-high purity methane in a really efficient way, which will enable us in the future to get into other markets, where solid carbon products are vital,” says Shearman. Think of products such as tires and graphite for batteries, which can be produced in far more environmentally friendly conditions.

“If we can actually take that carbon from the air here in the United States and have a domestic supply, we think that can play a really interesting role in the future of that supply chain as it continues to mature.”

Now, if you were purely in it all for the environmental reasons, perhaps you could propose to a loved one with a sliver of a river-rock you found on your third date, but at least this helps move the narrative onward a bit, showing there are other alternatives than what we’ve been doing for a few hundred years.

Aether wants to shift you from blood diamonds to gems pulled from thin air by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch

Microsoft bets on algae to mitigate its growing carbon footprint

Like all of its peers in the tech industry, Microsoft has a carbon pollution problem.

The software giant’s emissions are on the rise, in spite of a pledge from the company to be carbon negative by 2030. This ticking clock explains Microsoft’s latest deal to address its environmental toll: It’s turning to Running Tide to offset some of its emissions via the ocean.

Running Tide, which also works with Stripe and Shopify, aims to use this money to lock away massive quantities of carbon dioxide. Running Tide has said it will do this through efforts such as growing a whole lot of kelp on biodegradable buoys, intending for the algae to eventually sink to the ocean floor. The startup has a white paper on its work, but if you’re looking for just a tad more detail, here is what business development head Jordan Breighner told TechCrunch today:

“We combine wood and alkaline minerals to form a small carbon buoy that we can seed with algae seed and deploy deep into the open ocean,” said Breighner. “The buoy floats, the alkaline minerals dissolve, reducing ocean acidification and removing carbon through a process called ocean alkalinity enhancement. The algae grows rapidly, absorbing CO2. After less than three months the buoy and the algae and the embodied fast carbon sink to the bottom of the ocean, and if they sink below 1,000 meters the carbon is gone for roughly 1,000 years.”

“However, not all buoys are seeded,” Breighner added. “That is based on ocean conditions that are optimal for algae growth.”

On the whole, the carbon removal business is still early in its development. It has not yet proved it can lastingly draw down carbon at the scale it eventually aspires to reach. Some scientists also worry that fully developed, venture-backed sequestration schemes, such as gigantic kelp farms, could unintentionally harm ocean ecosystems, MIT Technology Review reported last year. 

So far, Breighner said that Running Tide has “only removed less than 1,000 tons of carbon in test and research deployments.” The startup intends to remove up to 12,000 tons over two years for Microsoft alone.

The deal is valued in the single-digit millions, Running Tide said. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on the price.

Microsoft’s most recent sustainability report showed a 21.5% increase in emissions from 2020 to 2021. The software giant attributed this to scope 3 emissions, which it said were linked to data center development and more customers using its products more often. In other words, Microsoft grew its cloud and gaming businesses, and its net emissions rose in tandem. The company aims to be carbon negative in the next seven or so years, and its plan to get there hinges on carbon removal.

Microsoft bets on algae to mitigate its growing carbon footprint by Harri Weber originally published on TechCrunch