Post-Bitcoin mining sesh energy [RyanJLane/E+ via GettyImages]
Happy Earth Day! NASA just flew a helicopter on Mars, but today we're focusing on our own planet — and how different companies and industries are affecting the environment.
The avo burger can walk... and it leaves a carbon footprint. Wild stat: the global food production system accounts for more than a third of human-made greenhouse gases. Wilder stat: ~45% of Earth's ice-free land is covered by crops to feed livestock — that means fewer trees and plants to suck up CO2.
pea.protein22 has joined the chat.... Sustainability concerns have propelled the rise of plant-based foods. In March 2020, 9.7M Americans reported following plant-based diets, up from 300K in 2004. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods say their plant burgers generate ~90% fewer emissions than beef (and require less water and land). Now, alt-food companies are gaining mainstream appeal:
Food is a change-maker... UN climate head Christiana Figueres sees the food industry as "one of the main levers of change" on global warming (she's also on Impossible's board). Alt-meat companies like Impossible and Beyond are explicitly targeting meat eaters who want to cut down — not vegetarians. If they succeed in full-mainstreamification of alt-protein, it could make a big difference. The plant-based meat industry is already a $20B biz, set to grow to $23 billion by 2024. But these companies still face pushback from the "real" beef and milk industries.
Et tu, Bitcoin?... When we hear "carbon emitters," we think of industries that have been around for 100+ years. But there's a new, "sneaky" carbon emitter on the scene: cryptocurrency. While crypto isn't on the same level as agriculture, transportation, and manufacturing, it's not great for the environment. Crypto mining uses tons of electricity... which is mostly generated by burning fossil fuels, like coal and gas.
Electricity vacuum... When Bitcoin was created by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, he/she/they wanted to ensure people wouldn't use it fraudulently. Enter "mining"... People mine Bitcoin by using a massive amount of computing power to verify transactions on the blockchain. Special mining computers solve complex equations, making quintillions of attempts per second to verify the legitimacy of transactions (read: major energy suck).
As Bitcoin grows, so does the energy drain... While retail and corporate investors pour into crypto, the total value of the crypto market has doubled since January to $2T. Companies like PayPal started accepting crypto payments, while others added BTC to their balance sheets. Growing Bitcoin activity could make it hard for certain countries to meet environmental goals. Meanwhile, 95% of millennials are interested in sustainable investing, according to Morgan Stanley. Growing interest in ESG investing could amp up pressure to green-ify crypto.
A gassy journey... Car, truck, ship, train, bus, or plane — burning gas is usually required to get from Point A to Point B. Not-so-wild stat: transportation is the largest contributor of GHG emissions in the US (28% of the total). The solution is simple, but also complicated: reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Turn me on with your electric wheel... The world is far from ditching gas entirely, but companies are laying the groundwork for an electric future.
Consumer EVs: GM set an ambitious 2035 target for phasing out gas vehicles from its lineup. Volkswagen said it'll slash the cost of batteries (the priciest part of EVs) by up to 50% by 2030, making them cheaper than gas cars. Tesla delivered a record-breaking 180K cars last quarter. Nio (aka: the "Tesla of China") said deliveries more than doubled to ~45K.
Business EVs: Amazon ordered 100K electric vans from Rivian, the largest order of delivery EVs ever. It's promising to become carbon neutral by 2040. GM unveiled a futuristic delivery solution, complete with electric pallets and a fresh fleet of e-vans. FedEx pledged to replace 100% of its mail fleet with battery-powered vehicles by 2040. Meanwhile, Tesla, Nikola, and Volvo are working on electric semi trucks for long hauls.
Policy is powerful... And it's moving the needle for sustainable transportation (and the companies behind it). Major governments — from CA, to Japan, to the UK — have said they'll start to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in the 2030s. Meanwhile, President Biden's $2.3T infrastructure proposal includes EV rebates and a network of 500K electric vehicle chargers. Government incentives for buying green could accelerate the move away from fossil fuels.
Authors of this Snacks own: Bitcoin and shares of Tesla, Square, and GM