Europe’s green search engine Ecosia reaches milestone of 100 million trees planted

Ecosia, the green search engine that uses its advertising revenues to plant trees in areas affected by deforestation, today planted the 100th million tree in its campaign to restore devastated forests and woodlands across the world.

Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Berlin, Ecosia’s tree planting mission is entirely supported by the advertising revenue generated from searches conducted by its 15 million users globally – including around 1.5 million across the UK. As knowledge of the climate crisis has risen in recent years, Ecosia’s popularity has also climbed – usership of the search engine in the UK increased by over 140% in 2019.

The green search engine is also seeing rapid growth among a younger audience. According to a recent straw poll Ecosia carried out of over 11,000 users, more than 80% of those respondents were under the age of 29. With its strong privacy policy, Ecosia does not track user data, but the survey indicates that over 1.2 million young people across the UK could be potential active users of the tree planting search engine.

Ecosia reached its 100 millionth tree today, just two years after the company hit the 30 million trees planted milestone. Collectively, the trees will remove up to 30 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere when fully grown, and Ecosia’s 100 million trees sequester 1771 tonnes of CO2 each day. The mission-driven company has restored approximately 35 thousand hectares of woodland and helped to protect biodiversity and natural beauty across all 6 inhabited continents.

However, the collapse of online advertising revenues due to the COVID-19 health crisis is hampering Ecosia’s ability to plant trees. Ecosia’s revenues in May were over € 1 million lower than in February, at the start of the crisis. Despite that, Ecosia has continued to grow its global user-base, with 25% more users in June 2020 compared to June 2019. The search engine even saw record search volumes in the last week of April, at the height of the lockdown, up by 73% year-on-year.

Christian Kroll, the CEO of Ecosia who we interviewed earlier this year, commented: “The climate crisis is the biggest existential threat that humanity has ever faced and we have very little time left to prevent a global catastrophe. Our efforts to protect biodiversity have never been more critical, and this milestone of 100 million trees is an important step in the right direction. Most importantly, our trees are not only good for the climate but have also helped tens of thousands of people to build a better future for themselves and their communities. I am really proud of what we have achieved so far, thanks to our passionate users. But we can’t stop here! I hope more people will now make the switch to Ecosia and help us plant billions more trees.”

Today Ecosia finances at least one tree every 0.8 seconds across over 7,000 planting sites around the world. The company has its own solar energy plants in Germany, helping to ensure that all of Ecosia’s activities are carbon negative. On July 7th this year, Ecosia will reach the ‘200% renewable’ energy level, where the firm produces twice as much solar energy as its search engine consumes.

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[Ripple in Green Queen] Chinese Confectionery Firm Multizen Invests In Vegan Dairy Startup Ripple Foods

Multizen, one of the largest B2B confectionery and snack companies in the Greater China region, has recently announced investment into Californian vegan pea-based dairy brand Ripple Foods. It marks Multizen’s first sustainable impact investment into startups providing disruptive food solutions and comes as the plant-based trend takes off in Asia.

Read more here.

The post [Ripple in Green Queen] Chinese Confectionery Firm Multizen Invests In Vegan Dairy Startup Ripple Foods appeared first on OurCrowd.

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E-scooter firms get the green light to start trials of up to one year on UK streets

In light of COVID-19 and social distancing regulations, the U.K. has been working on making it easier for people to get from point A to B in cities without resorting to buses and trains or bringing more cars to congested roads, and today that strategy took an interesting leap forward.

The country’s Department for Transport today announced that it would start allowing e-scooters, by way of e-scooter rental companies, to legally operate across the country initially in a trial phase starting no later than August. Councils and other authorities, including across London and other major cities, are working on putting together trials that could run for as long as 12 months under guidelines provided by the government.

The regulations come into force on July 4, the DfT said, with the first trials expected to begin a week later.

“As we emerge from lockdown, we have a unique opportunity in transport to build back in a greener, more sustainable way that could lead to cleaner air and healthier communities across Great Britain,” said Transport Minister Rachel Maclean in a statement. “E-scooters may offer the potential for convenient, clean and cost-effective travel that may also help ease the burden on the transport network, provide another green alternative to get around and allow for social distancing. The trials will allow us to test whether they do these things.”

There are some restrictions in place: E-scooters will not be able to go faster than 15.5 miles per hour, and they will only be able to use roads and cycle lanes, not sidewalks or other areas reserved for pedestrians. Users will need a drivers license (full or provisional). The scooters themselves will not need to be registered as vehicles but will need insurance. As with bicycles, users will be recommended — but not required — to wear helmets.

It seems that privately owned e-scooters will not be included in the rule relaxation, but it’s not clear what steps regulators will take — if any — to avoid the cluttering that we have seen in some cities overrun with too many dockless scooters crowding sidewalks.

The list of e-scooter hopefuls is long. From the word go, those that are looking to operate in the U.K. include Bird, Bolt (the ridesharing startup out of Estonia), Tier, Neuron Mobility, Lime, Voi and Zipp Mobility.

We’re contacting the DfT with our questions and will update this post as we learn more.

Electric scooters will now join the ranks of other shared transportation options that include bikes and e-bikes, as a complement to mass transit and of course walking or using your own nonautomotive wheels as an alternative to using cars. E-scooters have been seen both as an alternative for short distances (between 1 and 5 miles) but also as a last-mile solution in combination with other transport modes aimed at longer distances, like buses and trains.

The news today lifts restrictions that had previously been in place that classified e-scooters as motor vehicles and therefore required the e-scooters to be licensed and taxed, and for operators to have licenses to use them.

Those rules also meant that the e-scooters were illegal to use on sidewalks, with the only exception to all that being legal usage across select (and very limited) campuses on private land.

The moves come on the heels of a consultation in March to pilot e-scooter use in three regions of the U.K., along with a number of other initiatives including e-cargo carriers and using drones to transport medical supplies — the aim being to explore in quick order a number of new technologies to expand transportation options available to consumers, as well as essential businesses and the people who work in them.

The bigger trend has seen other cities also looking to relax rules to improve transportation options to people who wish to socially distance but still need to get around urban areas in ways that are quicker than walking. New York City is also expected to unveil its own roadmap for e-scooter pilots in the near future.

The news made official today had been something of a badly kept secret, specifically among transportation startups whose businesses have been in a holding pattern waiting for the regulator to ease up on restrictions that had been in place.

Just about all of those startups have been sending out alerts to journalists for over a week now with comments on the government’s widely expected announcements.

“We welcome the DfT’s announcement and are excited to be one step closer to the starting of e-scooter trials,” said Zachary Wang, CEO of Neuron Mobility, in a statement. “We are already in discussions with quite a few councils, as no two towns or cities are the same we look forward to partnering with them to safely introduce e-scooters in a way that best suits their individual needs. COVID-19 has led to a fundamental rethink of the way we travel and e-scooters have the potential to radically improve how we get around our towns and cities. We are delighted that people in the U.K. will soon be able to benefit from shared e-scooters. They will allow people to continue social distancing while also providing a more efficient travel option than gas-guzzling alternatives.”

Some have been waiting for a chance to operate for some time.

“We welcome today’s announcement from the government as it looks to get cities moving again safely and in an environmentally friendly way,” said Roger Hassan, COO of TIER Mobility, in a statement. “We already have more than 1,000 of our industry leading scooters in our U.K. warehouse, ready to be deployed and we will be shipping more over very soon. Everyone at TIER is looking forward to working with the government and with local authorities to make e-scooters in the U.K. a huge success story.”

While there had been restrictions in place before now, I should point out that they were often badly enforced: In London there have always been some private e-scooter owners zooming around alongside bikes and cars on the roads, and I’ve even stopped at red lights on my bike, with an e-scooter on one side of me and a police officer on the other, and not a word gets exchanged, just a simple shrug of “What can you do?” So decriminalising, as it has done in other industries, will hopefully mean better oversight, alongside better choice for users.

Startups – TechCrunch