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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 | 25.05.24

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This week we dive into how extreme weather is turning Alaskan rivers a rusty orange, explore Microsoft's AI push imperilling its climate goals, and uncover how climate change is even harming our brains (as well as our mental health!).


But it’s not all grim news, we also spotlight the ingenious startups building the world's first fungal protein factory in Finland, turning volcanic rock dust into a climate solution, and turning AI data centres green in our CogX must-reads of the week.

We hope you enjoy these stories and more below.

Top Stories

🤖  Microsoft’s AI push imperils its climate goals. The tech giant's carbon footprint has ballooned 30% in just two years, fueled by the massive data centres powering its booming AI business. While Microsoft insists the benefits of AI outweigh the environmental impact, many experts remain dubious — even those working within the company.


💸 Is Net Zero by 2050 still possible? The short answer is yes, but it will require an additional $34 trillion investment in clean energy compared to business-as-usual. This is according to a new report by BloombergNEF that warns the longer we delay, the more expensive it becomes.


🇬🇧 It's make or break for net zero as Rishi Sunak calls a July general election. Sunak’s past backtracking on climate policies has sparked significant concern, with many warning that voters are demanding stronger climate action and will hold the government accountable in the upcoming general election.


🚨 More than 20% of shareholders vote against Shell’s climate strategy. Shell shareholders are unhappy with the company's climate change strategy. More than a fifth of shareholders voted against Shell's strategy at its AGM, meanwhile an activist resolution - calling for stronger climate action - got nearly 19% of support.


Chart of the Week

Microsoft's climate goals, once a beacon of ambition in the fight against climate change, are now in peril as the tech giant ramps up its AI efforts.

Climate Change

🧠 Climate change is harming our brains, UCL study finds. From worsening epilepsy to triggering mental health issues, extreme weather events, temperature swings, and pollution are all linked to neurological problems, according to new research.


🟠 Alaskan rivers are turning a rusty orange, and climate change is to blame: A new study found that melting permafrost is exposing minerals that are staining the water and making it acidic, harming the Arctic's delicate freshwater ecosystems and fisheries. 


👠 Is your favourite fashion brand cutting emissions? The fashion industry is facing difficulty in tracking its greenhouse gas emissions due to inconsistencies in reporting methods.



Stat of the week 

Almost all hydrofuel currently relies on dirty fossil fuels for production. However...


However, green hydrogen — made with clean electricity through electrolysis — offers a promising solution for powering various off-grid and transportational needs.


Green Tech

🤖 Eco-Friendly AI? Google's parent company, Alphabet, is making a big bet on sustainable AI with a $1 billion investment in a new Finnish data centre. The big draw? Finland's wind-powered energy infrastructure.


⚡ Europe is going big on green hydrogen — but It’s a risky gamble. They are pouring billions into green hydrogen, a clean fuel seen as key to reaching climate goals. But building the infrastructure to produce, transport, and utilise this clean fuel is proving far more expensive than anticipated.


🌋 Volcanic rock dust could be a weapon in the fight against climate change and a boon for farmers. This "rock weathering" mimics a natural process, locking away carbon in the soil for good. While it's not a silver bullet, it still offers a promising sustainable solution for agriculture.


🍄 Finnish startup Enifer gets full funding for world-first fungal protein factory.  Pekilo is a type of mycoprotein, a fungus-based food with a low carbon footprint. Originally used for animal feed, Enifer is now refining it for humans. 

  • The new factory aims to produce enough Pekilo to feed 40,000 people annually, with uses ranging from meat alternatives to breakfast cereals.



In case you missed it

Space solar farms beaming down clean energy 24/7: Does it sound too good to be true? Recent reports suggest it might be.

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