Amazon’s Carbon Footprint Increases, How Tesla Lost The Affordable Electric Vehicle Race And Generac’s Home Microgrids

This week’s Current Climatewhich every Saturday brings you the latest news about the business of sustainability. Sign up to get it in your inbox every week.

In 2019, Amazon cofounded The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Since then, the company’s carbon footprint has increased by nearly 40%. Amazon’s carbon footprint was 51.17 million metric tons in 2019 and grew to 71.54 million metric tons in 2021, according to the company’s sustainability report released this week. Amazon said the increase was driven by growth during the pandemic across both its consumer e-commerce and cloud businesses, which required building new facilities and expanding its transportation network.

Attempting to deflect away from the total carbon footprint, the report suggested companies should also be judged on whether they are lowering “carbon emissions intensity,” which is total carbon per dollar of gross merchandise sales. While Amazon has continued to decrease its carbon intensity, the year-over-year change was much smaller. From 2019 to 2020, Amazon decreased its carbon intensity by more than 16%. From 2020 to 2021, the decrease was 1.9%.


The Big Read

Backup Plan: How Generac Thrives Amid Grid Blackouts And Natural Disasters

Milwaukee-based Generac has an 80% market share in the home backup generator business and a six-month order backlog. But rather than just selling “a product people hope they never use,” CEO Aaron Jagdfeld has big ideas for the company’s future: home microgrids. He wants to start marketing an “energy independence” package pairing gas, solar and batteries, all optimized with machine learning software that manages your heating and cooling with an eye toward making you money. Read more here.


Discoveries And Innovations

The sun is getting more active than NASA predicted, and it’s possible the current 11-year sun may end up being the strongest first cycle on record – ever since scientists started recording sunspots in 1755.

Black asphalt stores and retains heat. Roofing and waterproofing manufacturer GAF (part of Standard Industries) has launched a pilot project to see if solar reflective coatings can help reduce temperatures in a 10-block neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Morocco’s minister of energy transition and sustainable development says the country is installing thousands of megawatts of renewable energy capacity as it aims to become an exporter to North Africa and Europe.

Bicycle transport levels in England increased 47% on weekdays in the first five months of the year, commuters reacted to rising fuel prices.


Sustainability Deals Of The Week

Nuclear Fusion: UK-based First Light Fusion, an Oxford University nuclear fusion spinout, is looking to raise 400 million GBP, as it moves towards commercialization, Sky News reports.

Vertical Farming: Japan-based Spread, a vertical farming startup originally focused on lettuce, has $30 million in Series A funding, as it expands into strawberries and alternative meats.

Climate Tech: San Francisco-based Top Tier Capital Partners has raised $925 million in new capital for late-stage climate tech investments.


On The Horizon

The US Senate could vote on the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion over the next 10 years for “energy security and climate change programs,” as soon as this weekend, Reuters reports. The legislation, a deal struck by Senate Democrats Chuck Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, would need all 50 Democratic senators plus tie-breaker Vice President Kamala Harris in order to move forward.


What Else We’re Reading This Week

Extreme heatwaves: surprising lessons from the record warmth (Nature)

‘They are not slowing down’: The rise of billion-dollar disasters (The Washington Post)

Data Centers Are Facing a Climate Crisis (Wired)



Green Transportation Update

Sixteen years ago today, before Tesla had built its first car, Elon Musk published his “Master Plan” for the company with a singular goal: transform the environmentally unfriendly auto industry into a friendly one by selling pricey electric cars that would underwrite the development of affordable ones. “When someone buys the Tesla Roadster sports car, they are actually helping pay for development of the low-cost family car,” Musk wrote. The thing is, that affordable family EV is here but it’s a Chevrolet, not a Tesla. And General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai and other carmakers are ramping up production of a whole lot of new battery-powered models priced below the current industry leader. Read more here.


The Big Transportation Story

Fisker Says It’s Got More Than $300 Million Worth Of Preorders For Its Electric SUV

Fisker Inc., another would-be Tesla competitor, is about to start building its first electric models and says initial orders for Ocean SUVs are likely worth more than $300 million of revenue. Though the first 5,000 units it builds will be $70,000 versions with all options, the Los Angeles-based company expects to start delivering cheaper $37,499 versions later next year and is also planning a $30,000 mass-market EV that’s due in 2024. Read more here.



More Green Transportation News

Nikola Is Buying Struggling Battery Maker Romeo Power For $144 Million

GKN Automotive Hits Multi-Million Electric Drive Milestone

Sky-High Gas Prices Make Us All Want EVs, Right? Not So, Survey Says

Under EV Investor Ideanomics, Electric Motorcycle Maker Energica Looks Beyond Just Building Bikes

What Does Herbert Diess Departure Mean For Volkswagen’s Electric Future?


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