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Race to Net Zero

Your weekly CogX briefing on green tech and the future of energy
The week's developments in green tech & energy policy, explained | 06.01.24

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Climate falsehoods have reached a fever pitch in recent years — with numerous environmental pledges not being met as promised — but a coalition of startups is looking to reverse this worrying trend. They've introduced an open-source AI platform named ClimateGPT, designed to combat climate disinformation. But is it any better than ChatGPT or Bard?

Elsewhere, a new report reveals the UK is lagging behind its EU peers in SDG progress, 2024 may set the stage for an ESG investor exodus and a Swiss startup may have just unravelled the secret to achieving safe nuclear energy generation.


We hope you enjoy these stories and more below.



CogX Must Reads

 


Top Stories


🤖 ClimateGPT launches as open-source AI to tackle climate disinformation. Endorsed by the Endowment for Climate Intelligence (a collective of startups looking to democratise access to climate science information), ClimateGPT aims to deliver decision-makers with credible, blockchain-verified climate data.

 

🇬🇧 UK trails behind on sustainable development goals, new report shows. Britain ranked 16th among European nations in progress towards achieving 2030 SDG targets, while the EU as a whole is set to miss one-third of its goals by 2030, according to the study. 

 

📉 Is there an ESG exodus underway? ESG funds experienced worldwide net outflows as US fund clients withdrew $5.1 billion in the fourth quarter. The current macroeconomic environment and hiking inflation has made investors increasingly sensitive to the higher fees and lower returns associated with some ESG products.



The cost of global damage from natural disasters


Global funding for the transition to low-carbon energy surged by 17% in 2023, hitting a total of £1.39 billion, according to a recent report published by BloombergNEF.




 

Climate Change


☀️ The UK government faces criticism for doing little to prepare for hotter summers, prompting calls for a national housing adaptation program to enhance heat resilience in the wake of rising temperatures. According to the Met Office, 2024 is set to be the hottest year on record.


⚡️Power-hungry AI could worsen the climate crisis and impact marginalised people the most, a new Brookings report suggests. The study calls for the immediate implementation of sustainable AI practices to mitigate environmental impacts and prevent widening inequalities.

 

Stat of the week 


In 2023, zero-carbon energy sources generated over


51%


of the electricity used in the UK — outperforming traditional fossil fuels like gas (32%) and coal (1%). (ESO)


 

Green Tech



🔋 Tesla’s battery sales are outpacing its car business. Despite a dip in the fourth quarter, total installations in 2023 more than doubled compared to 2022, with profits nearly quadrupling, according to Tesla's investor filing.

 

⚛️ A Swiss startup to develop a safer nuclear energy alternative, using thorium, a forgotten element which promises shorter radioactive decay, minimised hazardous waste, and immediate shutdown. The startup, Transmutex has raised $23 million to achieve this goal.

 

🌱 China’s green tech drove 40% of its growth in 2023. Clean energy investments fueled a record $1.6 trillion contribution to China's economy. Despite this boom, the looming threat of overcapacity raises questions about the sustainability of the sectors’ rapid expansion.


📱 Latin America's digital innovators are stepping up. From low-carbon milk to AI irrigation, here are some of the smartest startups looking to power Latin America’s green revolution — and reshape the future of green innovation in the region.


 

 

 In case you missed it


Billions are being poured into sustainable AI, yet its ballooning energy appetite is sparking ethical alarms — will machine learning become a climate saviour or carbon culprit?




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