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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 | 27.04.24

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This week we cover how climate change in the EU is wreaking havoc on crops, jobs, and yes, even our beloved coffee. But fear not, caffeinated friends! We’re also spotlighting ingenious startups who are brewing up solutions. From bioengineered plants that gobble up emissions to the world's biggest solar farms, we cover this and much more below.

We hope you enjoy these stories and more below.

Top Stories

🚨  Hitting the brakes on climate action? The Scottish government has ditched its ambitious goal of slashing CO2 emissions by 75% within the next decade, admitting the target is unachievable and that it needs to recalibrate its approach to tackling climate change.


🌎 60 firms are responsible for half of world’s plastic pollution, survey finds. The research linked increased plastic production by these companies to a rise in plastic waste in the environment, with Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Danone, Philip Morris and Altria being identified as the biggest polluters.


🌱 Ecosia launches world’s first energy-generating browser. Their new eco-friendly browser runs on renewable energy and even generates some clean energy as you browse. What's more, the company claims the browser has been optimised for speed. It claims that loading pages is up to three times faster than most mainstream browsers.

☕ Coffee prices hit new highs over fears of global shortages. Worries about coffee shortages due to bad weather in Vietnam and Brazil have sent coffee prices soaring to record highs. Experts say these higher prices likely won't hit store shelves immediately, but coffee giants like Nestle are already feeling the pinch.


Chart of the Week

The US saw a surge in clean investment in 2023, reaching a total of $239 billion. That's a jump of 38% compared to the $174 billion invested in 2022, according to Clean Investment Monitor.

Climate Change

🦟 Mosquito-borne diseases spreading in Europe due to climate crisis, says expert. Warmer temperatures are creating ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos, allowing them to thrive in new areas. Experts warn these diseases could reach previously unaffected parts of the world in the coming decades, as the climate crisis worsens.


🍷 Climate change isn't just harming the environment, it's hurting jobs too. In Spain, a major producer of Cava — a popular sparkling wine — is having to lay off workers due to a years-long drought that's devastated grape harvests. 


🌳 Plant apocalypse: how new diseases are destroying EU trees and crops. The EU introduced new regulations in 2016 to improve biosecurity, but some argue that these are not enough and that a stricter system, similar to those of New Zealand and Chile, is needed.


📱 Apple's shiny iPhone recycling program might not be all it seems. While the tech giant advertises its high-tech shredding facilities as a greener way to reuse old gadgets, a lengthy court case is exposing the potentially dark underbelly of the industry.



Stat of the week 

A typical one-litre (33-ounce) bottle of water contains —  on average —  over


plastic fragments, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Green Tech

🪨 Spreading rock dust on farms boosts crop yields and captures CO2. While previous research had already shown that rock dust can remove carbon dioxide from the air – now there is new evidence spreading it on farmlands can also boost crop yields.


🪴 French biotech startup Neoplants just launched its first air-purifying house plant in the US. The bioengineered plants can, according to the company, replace 20 regular plants in terms of air-cleaning power.


🏭 3 carbon capture technologies you’ve probably never heard of. From burying trees underground and turning buildings into carbon sinks to using special pebbles to grow seagrass and create ecosystems, some of the most innovative startups are coming up with creative ways to capture carbon. 


💡 Software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes is betting big on a wild climate fix. His main project, SunCable, involves building the world's largest solar farm in Australia and transmitting the electricity via an undersea cable to Singapore.



In case you missed it

Can green hydrogen help bring about the end of the fossil fuel era? According to social entrepreneur Vaitea Cowan, it might just be the missing puzzle piece we need for a sustainable future.

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