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Are carbon credits trustworthy?
February 12, 2024

Tech Brew

It’s Monday. Are carbon credits a worthy investment? Tech Brew’s Patrick Kulp got curious about the seemingly popular but controversial financial device and found three companies trying to wrangle the numbers behind the credits to prove they’re worth it—for your buck, and for the planet.

In today’s edition:

Patrick Kulp, Jordyn Grzelewski, Kelcee Griffis, Annie Saunders


Matter of trust

Carbon credits Francis Scialabba

With buyers ranging from Taylor Swift to Apple, carbon offset credits seem poised to grow in the coming decades as companies work to meet compliance requirements and climate goals.

But it’s been an especially rough few years for the often controversial financial device, in which companies—or individuals—can buy credits for projects that claim to have reduced emissions or removed carbon from the atmosphere to offset (hence the name) their own carbon-producing activities. Multiple reports have questioned the veracity of claims made by projects sold on the voluntary carbon market, casting a pall over the whole system.

That’s where businesses like Sylvera, BeZero Carbon, and Calyx Global want to help. The companies are part of a nascent cottage industry designed to act as ratings agencies for these instruments in the same way companies like Moody’s do for bonds. They generally work on behalf of companies that purchase carbon offsets, doing research to gauge the integrity and efficacy of a given carbon-reduction program, and issuing ratings on their own scales.

Calyx co-founder Duncan van Bergen said there’s been “what you could call a crisis of confidence” in the past couple years, “not because quality credits aren’t out there, it’s just that there is variability.” On the one hand, that’s led to buyers—and risk departments—being savvier about diligence and enlisting the services of companies like Calyx. On the other, if companies have too little trust in the market, they could choose to forgo credits altogether.

“Awareness has grown. And that’s led to more interest in what we do and corporate [clients] reaching out. So that’s been a positive,” van Bergen said. “But obviously, what’s important also in the mid- to long-term, if we’re to have a big and growing business, and that impact realized, is that there is a market. And that the crisis of confidence doesn’t lead to people saying, ‘Well, hey, this is just too touchy, too risky. I’m out.’”

Keep reading here.—PK



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Earned interest

Graphic depicting cash and stock indicators Javier Ghersi/Getty Images

Detroit appears to be the winner of the latest round of “Tesla versus the legacy auto industry”—at least according to Wall Street’s reaction to Q4 earnings.

Tesla’s stock sank following the EV maker’s Jan. 24 earnings call, during which executives said they expect a slower pace of growth this year. But investors reacted favorably to the latest results from GM and Ford, even as the automakers also acknowledged a bumpier-than-expected EV transition.

“It’s a tale of two cities,” Dan Ives, managing director and senior equity research analyst at Wedbush Securities, told Tech Brew. “From Detroit, [there were] stronger earnings and overall demand than the Street was fearing, with outlooks that show profitability pictures that are a lot brighter than many on the Street were modeling.”

GM and Ford appear to be “listening to the dealers and customers,” he added. “And you contrast that with Tesla, [which] is going through a little bit of an identity crisis now.”

Keep reading here.—JG



Coworking with Chris Ellis

Graphic featuring a headshot of AudioCardio's Chris Ellis. Chris Ellis

Coworking is a weekly segment where we spotlight Tech Brew readers who work with emerging technologies. Click here if you’d like a chance to be featured.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in tech?

My job is a bit of everything. As CEO of a growing startup, I’ve played almost every role in the company since its inception. That spans from helping answer support questions and writing blog articles to designing and developing products. On a day-to-day basis, it’s leading our company, ensuring that everyone knows their responsibilities and goals to help achieve our overall mission.

What’s the most compelling tech project you’ve worked on, and why?

My work at AudioCardio, a digital health company focused on reversing hearing loss and relieving tinnitus (ringing in the ears), has been my most compelling work thus far. Our mission is to provide hope and an easily accessible and affordable solution for people all over the world.

Although it impacts more than 500 million people globally, hearing loss is often overlooked and ignored, with very little innovation in the hearing industry over the last 50 years. However, we now know untreated hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of dementia, falling, depression, and many other secondary physical and mental health issues. The stories we hear from our customers about the impact AudioCardio has made on their lives are what drive our organization.

Keep reading here.



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Stat: $200 billion. That’s how much the US economy could benefit from “spectrum harmonization” in the next decade, Tech Brew’s Kelcee Griffis reported, citing a report from CTIA and Accenture.

Quote: “It’s time to admit we’re soon going to be surrounded by representations of the world which aren’t real…and they will become less and less real every day.”—Kristian Hammond, a Northwestern University professor of computer science, to the Washington Post in a story about the ethics of utilizing AI-generated headshots

Read: After its $20 billion windfall evaporated, Figma picks up the pieces (the New York Times)


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