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Rockefeller, Ikea foundations launch $1 billion clean-power push in developing nations

Two foundations just unveiled a $1 billion initiative to help deliver clean energy to huge numbers of people worldwide who lack electricity access — and they hope it catalyzes vastly more outside capital.

Driving the news: The Rockefeller and Ikea foundations said the new program "aims to reduce 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and to empower 1 billion people with distributed renewable energy."


  • The new platform will be housed in the RF Catalytic Capital division that Rockefeller launched last year, which it calls a way for "impact investors, and governments to combine their resources and expand their global philanthropic reach."
  • The goal is to unlock finance for areas like micro-grids and off-grid renewable power.

Why it matters: While the initial $1 billion on its own is nowhere near the scale needed to sustainably expand global access, the Financial Times reports that the effort is aimed at mobilizing much more money.

  • "[T]hey hope to attract $10bn of additional funds this year from international development agencies, before opening up to institutional investors in a bid to expand renewables investment in countries such as India, Nigeria, and Ethiopia," the FT reports.
  • It quotes Rockefeller President Rajiv J. Shah expressing hope that the effort could eventually reach $100 billion or even $1 trillion by using "philanthropic capital as a lever to get commercial capital."
  • This morning's announcement says the foundations see the new platform as a way to identify "viable, investment-ready projects."

The big picture: Meeting rising global energy demand in developing countries without a corresponding increase in emissions is a key global challenge — especially as scientists say steep emissions cuts are needed to contain global warming.

By the numbers: An estimated 759 million people worldwide lacked electricity as of 2019, per joint analysis from the World Bank and other agencies.And the two foundations' announcement this morning notes that access is unreliable for another 2.8 billion people.

What they're saying: An International Energy Agency report this month looked more broadly at the need to scale up finance for climate-friendly energy in emerging and developing economies worldwide.

  • They estimate that by the end of this decade, "annual capital spending on clean energy in these economies needs to expand by more than seven times, to above USD 1 trillion, in order to put the world on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050."

Go deeper: EPA releases list of top cities with Energy Star-certified buildings

National parks "drowning in tourists"

Data: National Park Service; note: Gateway National Recreation Area is excluded due to missing data in 2021. Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

National Parks across the U.S. are overflowing with a post-pandemic crush of tourists, leading to increased issues with congestion, traffic jams, user experience, strain on staff and increased damage to the parks.

Why it matters: Some are seeing such a record number they're being forced to limit, and even close, access to certain areas to avoid the danger of eroding the land. The result, ultimately, could change the way Americans interact with the parks going forward.

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Facebook's next chapter: Build the "metaverse"

Facebook's "next chapter," Mark Zuckerberg says, is to be prime builder of "the metaverse" — an open, broadly distributed, 3D dimension online where, he says, we will all conduct much of our work and personal lives.

The big picture: Zuckerberg admits Facebook will only be one of many companies building this next-generation model of today's internet — but he also intends Facebook to lead the pack.

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CDC asks the vaccinated to help save the unvaccinated from themselves

The Biden administration is essentially asking vaccinated Americans to help save the unvaccinated from themselves.

The big picture: America's "pandemic of the unvaccinated" has gotten bad enough that vaccine mandates are starting to catch on, and masks are coming back — in some cases, even for the vaccinated.

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Least persuadable unvaccinated Americans are largely white and Republican

Data: Axios-Ipsos Poll; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The most hardcore opponents of coronavirus vaccination — the group who say they'll never get one — tend to be older, whiter and more Republican than the unvaccinated Americans who are still persuadable, according to an analysis of our Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: As the Delta variant triggers more COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, mostly among the unvaccinated, the Biden administration and even some high-profile GOP political and media figures are trying to figure out how to nudge the country's vaccination rate higher.

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Female Olympians push back against double standard in uniforms

Female Olympians in Tokyo are rejecting the uniforms that have long defined their sports, highlighting a double standard that exists how women dress in competition vs. men.

Driving the news: During their qualifying round Sunday, Germany's women's gymnastics team wore full-length unitards, eschewing the conventional leg-barring leotards worn by most female gymnasts.

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Simone Biles won't defend Olympic title at gymnastics all-around final in Tokyo

U.S. gymnastics great Simone Biles won't defend her Olympic title in the upcoming all-around final as she continues to focus on her mental health, USA Gymnastics announced Wednesday.

After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many. pic.twitter.com/6ILdtSQF7o

— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) July 28, 2021

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

DOJ declines to defend Mo Brooks in Eric Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit

The Department of Justice declined late Tuesday to represent Rep. Mo Brooks in a civil lawsuit against the Georgia congressman concerning the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Brooks had argued he should have immunity in the suit, filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) against him, former President Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the insurrection. He said he was acting as a government employee when he spoke at a rally before the insurrection.

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Katie Ledecky wins gold in first women's 1500m freestyle

Katie Ledecky took home the gold medal in the women's 1,500-meter freestyle swimming race Tuesday evening, becoming the first female swimmer to win the newly added division. Team USA's Erica Sullivan won silver.

Driving the news: The long-distance 1,500m race has traditionally only been available to men at the Olympics, and the Tokyo Games mark the first time that it has been open to women.

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