Responding to the IPCC Report with Grit and Optimism

Dear Friends of Greentown Labs, 

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report. And if you haven’t read the report in its entirety (the summary alone is 40+ pages), this week’s headlines have summarized its findings: the outlook is grim; our future will be hotter; and we—humans—have undoubtedly influenced our planet and atmosphere’s rising temperatures, which is making extreme weather events catastrophic. 

That’s a hard pill to swallow. Couple it with the COVID-19 pandemic we’re still navigating and all of a sudden the enormity of these challenges can be utterly overwhelming—climate anxiety is real. But, if you’ve been in the climate community for some time, thematically this information isn’t new to you. Perhaps it’s more crystallizing than anything and hopefully elevates the urgency of the climate crisis to the mainstream media. In less than 72 hours, we’ve seen most major news outlets cover the report with takeaways, “code red” warnings, and analyses. The reporting has been thoughtful and informative. But you know what headline I’d like to see? 

It’s not too late to take collaborative climate action for net-zero emissions by 2050.

That’s right! Buried within most of these articles is a paragraph that alludes to “not all is lost,” or “we can alter the climate path.” Let’s lean into that glimmer of optimism and highlight opportunities for action! Yes, this will take an incredible amount of work. Yes, it will be really hard. Yes, we have to fight like hell to deploy a coordinated, global attack on the climate crisis because our future—and that of our kids and grandkids—depends on it. 

So, let’s get to work! 

At Greentown, we believe we can make a difference in our climate trajectory. It’s why we do the work we do every day! It’s hard not to remain relentlessly optimistic surrounded by the amazing climatetech startups we’re so proud to support. Companies like Form Energy that just announced a $200M financing round to scale its iron-air batteries and enable long-duration energy storage; or LineVision that’s installing its transmission line monitoring system in California to minimize bottlenecks on the grid and allow for more renewable energy; or Ivys Energy Solutions that’s deploying the largest self-producing commercial hydrogen refueling station in North America. And that’s just a sampling of what our members are working on across the largest GHG-emitting sectors and to advance resilient infrastructure.

The IPCC report highlights the need to limit CO₂ emissions, reaching at least net-zero CO₂
emissions by 2050 while also dramatically limiting other GHG emissions like methane. There is a massive opportunity to not only limit these emissions but also capture and remove them from the atmosphere. Enter: carbon capture, utilization, and storage.

Greentown is already hard at work with our friends at the Urban Future Lab and Fraunhofer USA to run the Carbon to Value (C2V) Initiative, a first-of-its-kind program that aims to create a thriving innovation ecosystem for the commercialization of carbontech—technologies that capture, convert, and store CO₂ into valuable end products or services. Our first cohort represents a wide variety of carbontech innovations, including Cemvita Factory, which engineers microorganisms to use CO₂ as feedstock for biomanufacturing of intermediate chemicals such as ethylene and just announced the initial closing of its series A; and CarbonFree, which has commercial technologies that capture and convert industrial CO₂ emissions into minerals for sale or storage, and just announced a partnership with Fluor—a member of the C2V Initiative’s Carbontech Leadership Council—to help manufacture its technology so it can be installed at industrial plants around the globe.

Earlier this year, Greentown opened its second location and first expansion outside of Massachusetts in Houston to serve as an on-the-ground catalyst for the energy transition. We’re working to convene civic and business leaders, entrepreneurs, students, and other stakeholders who have already begun the transition and to raise awareness of the opportunity for those who have yet to engage. The warm welcome and enthusiasm from the Houston ecosystem has been amazing, and the eagerness to engage is inspiring. The energy transition is well underway in the energy capital of the world and we invite you to get involved! 

In fact, please consider this an open invitation to collaborate with our community in a multitude of ways: support our startups by investing in them or deploying their solutions; jump into the growing climatetech workforce and join one of their teams; or connect with them at our upcoming Climatetech Summit on Nov. 4, 2021. 

They say necessity is the mother of invention. In this case, climate solutions have been invented. Now, it’s time for necessity to be the mother of collaboration, commercialization, and action.


Emily Reichert
CEO, Greentown Labs