New US envoy to UN gets red carpet welcome from Russia


She will be jumping right into her new job, tackling global peace and security issues with Russia, China and a dozen other countries because the United States takes over the rotating presidency of the powerful U.N. Security Council on Monday. And she might even decide to attend a council meeting on Friday.

“We are looking forward to interactions with her,” Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told a group of reporters Wednesday. “You can count on our most favorable attitudes and positive emotions towards her as a member of our Security Council family.”

Noting Thomas-Greenfield’s decades as a U.S. diplomat, he said “it’s always easier to interact with professionals.”

But he said America’s view that Russia is “an enemy” and a “threat” hasn’t changed under Biden, so “it’s very difficult to imagine how the interaction with us might change with such starting points of the positions of the new administration.”

Nonetheless, Polyansky said, “there are a lot of things Russia and the United States can do together” and “we will judge the new administration by what it does.”

“We’re in favor of cooperation,” he said. But “it takes two to tango, and really we’re ready to dance, but we need a good and reliable partner who knows all the moves and who respects us” as a country with certain positions, “doesn’t view us as a threat” and sees “our obvious national interests in many issues.”

Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the U.S. foreign service who rose to be assistant secretary of state for Africa, resigned during the Trump administration. She will be the third African-American, and the second African-American woman, to hold the U.N. post.

Her confirmation on Tuesday was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations who had lamented former President Donald Trump’s “America First” unilateral approach to international affairs and rejoiced at President Joe Biden’s return to multilateralism.

At the Senate hearing on her nomination, Thomas-Greenfield called China “a strategic adversary” that threatens the world, and called a speech she gave in 2019 that praised China’s initiatives in Africa but made no mention of its human rights abuses a mistake.

The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm her with Republican opponents saying she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the U.N.

Thomas-Greenfield said at the hearing that Washington will be working not only with allies “but to see where we can find common ground with the Russians and the Chinese to put more pressure on the Iranians to push them back into strict compliance” with the 2015 agreement to rein in their nuclear program. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018 and Biden has indicated the U.S. will rejoin it, though how that might happen remains a major question.

Polyansky said Russia welcomes the “”positive developments” on the Iran nuclear deal and the U.S. agreement to extend the START nuclear agreement, adding that Moscow is ready for serious and meaningful discussions “first and foremost in the area of strategic stability.”

Thomas-Greenfield stressed at the hearing that the U.S. will be reengaging internationally and promoting American values — “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.”

Louis Charbonneau, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press that Thomas-Greenfield should promote human rights as “a top priority.”

“She should abandon the Trump administration’s selective approach to human rights – enthusiastically condemning its enemies’ abuses while ignoring rights violations of allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“But there’s room for continuity on China and Syria,” Charbonneau said. “She should make expanding the coalition of nations willing to speak out against Beijing’s human rights abuses one of her chief goals at the U.N., above trying to bring African, Asian, and Latin American states into the fold. And she should continue to push for expanded humanitarian access to all parts of Syria.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


People above 60 years to get COVID-19 vaccine from March 1



The Union Government will begin the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination from March 1, 2021. Under this phase, people above the age of 60 years will get vaccinated.

Those above 45 years of age with comorbidities will also be vaccinated under this phase. This was informed by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar during a press conference on February 24, 2021.

The vaccine will be administered to the beneficiaries at 10,000 government and over 20,000 private vaccination centres. 

Cost of Vaccination

•  The beneficiaries will be vaccinated free of cost at 10,000 government hospitals.

•  However, the cost of vaccination at the 20,000 private vaccination centres will have to be borne by the beneficiary only. 

How much will be the vaccine shot cost?

The amount of the vaccine shot will be decided by the health ministry within the next 3-4 days after they hold discussions with the vaccine manufacturers and hospitals.

Background

Roughly 1,07,67,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 so far under COVID-19 vaccination Phase-I, which began on January 16, 2021. 

Among these, around 14 lakh people have even received the second dose. In the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination, only healthcare and frontline workers were vaccinated.




JNCASR Scientists develop potential drug candidate for Alzheimer’s treatment



A group of scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have designed a set of novel small molecules that could disrupt the mechanism through which neurons become dysfunctional in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). 

The molecule could reduce the toxicity of Amyloid Beta (Aβ) toxicity and be a potential drug candidate to halt or cure the leading cause of dementia (70-80%) worldwide. 

Key Details

•  In Alzheimer’s disease , usually abnormal levels of naturally forming protein accumulate to form plaques that collect between neurons and disrupt cell function.

•  This is caused due to production and deposition of the amyloid peptide (Aβ), which collects in the central nervous system.

•  However, detailed studies have established the TGR63 molecule as a potential candidate to rescue neuronal cells from amyloid toxicity. 

•  The molecule is found to reduce amyloid burden in the cortex and hippocampus, a complex part embedded deep into the temporal lobe, thereby reversing cognitive decline. 

•  The research was published recently in the journal Advanced Therapeutics.

Research results 

•  When mice with Alzheimer’s disease were treated with TGR63, their brain showed a significant reduction of amyloid deposits. 

•  The mice also showed a reduction in memory impairment, learning deficiency and cognitive decline.

•  These attributes validate the potential of TGR63 as a promising drug candidate for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. 

Alzheimer’s Treatment

There is no particular drug that can directly act on the disease mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease to cure or halt it. The current available treatments only provide temporary relief. 

The disease severely affects the patients, caregivers and families and hence is a major societal and economic burden globally. 




US Senate confirms Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s nomination as US ambassador to UN



The US Senate on February 23, 2021 confirmed Linda Thomas-Greenfield as US ambassador to the United Nations. Greenfield’s name was nominated for the post by US President Joe Biden.

The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm Thomas-Greenfield for the Cabinet-level position. Greenfield is the eighth confirmed member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield is a US diplomat with vast experience in Africa. She is a three-decade veteran of the US State Department. 

Key Highlights 

•  Linda Thomas-Greenfield is exceptionally qualified and in her new role, she will have to work to rebuild America’s reputation and reasserting the first instrument of American power and diplomacy. 

•  Her appointment comes as the Biden administration is taking steps to reassert the US position within the United Nations by reversing policy decisions taken by former President Trump’s administration, which left the US isolated globally. 

•  Her appointment also comes at a time when the US is rallying allies to push back against the military coup in Myanmar and amid the Biden administration’s renewed push for diplomacy to resolve the Yemeni civil war. 

•  However, Greenfield’s biggest task will be asserting US leadership and uniting allies to confront China’s influence and ambitions at the global body.

About Linda Thomas-Greenfield

•  Linda Thomas-Greenfield is a retired foreign service veteran, who had resigned during the Trump administration.

•  She will be the third African-American and the second African American woman to hold the post of UN ambassador to the UN. 

•  Greenfield is expected to work with international partners to confront their collective challenges head-on and play an active role in ensuring that the United Nations evolves with the demands of the era. 

Following her confirmation to the post, Thomas-Greenfield made it clear that there would be a change under Biden to re-engage internationally and promote American values.

She stressed that US leadership must be rooted in the country’s core values — “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights and the promotion of peace and security.” 

She added saying that effective diplomacy means developing “robust relationships,” finding common ground and managing differences, and “doing genuine, old-fashioned, people-to-people diplomacy.”




Israel doles out small batches of vaccine as diplomatic perks



“Over the past month, a limited quantity of unused vaccines was accumulated; therefore, it has been decided to assist Palestinian Authority medical teams and several of the countries that contacted Israel with a symbolic quantity of vaccines,” the statement said.

The announcement did not say how many doses would be donated or name the recipient countries. Israeli media, citing diplomatic sources, said they included Honduras and Guatemala, which have opened embassies in Jerusalem. Also on the list reportedly were Hungary, which recently opened a trade mission in the city, and the Czech Republic, which has said it intends to open a diplomatic office of some kind there soon. Jerusalem is claimed as a capital by both Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment.

Using vaccine as an apparent diplomatic reward was criticized by some public health experts and by Netanyahu’s opponents.

“The fact that Netanyahu trades in vaccines funded by Israeli taxpayers without discussion and accountability shows that he is running a kingdom and not a country,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who will oppose Netanyahu in elections next month.

Vaccine was also apparently a bargaining chip in a recent prisoner swap between Israel and Syria. In exchange for the return of an Israeli woman who illegally crossed the Syrian border, Israel reportedly agreed to pay for thousands of doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine to be delivered to Damascus.

Israel has yet to publicly confirm that arrangement. A public health adviser to the government said Wednesday that the plans were still being finalized. The symbolic donation announced Tuesday is apparently unrelated to that larger effort.


Current Affairs in Short: 24 February 2021



Second phase of COVID-19 vaccination to begin in India from March 1

•  The second phase of COVID-19 vaccination will begin in India from March 1, 2021. Under this phase, people above the age of 60 years and those above 45 years of age with comorbidities will be vaccinated. This was informed by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on February 24, 2021 while addressing a press conference after the Union Cabinet meeting.
•  All the beneficiaries will be vaccinated at 10,000 government and over 20,000 private vaccination centres. The vaccine will be given free of cost at government centres but those who would take the vaccine at private centres will have to pay for the vaccine shots. 
•  The amount of the vaccine shot will be decided by the health ministry within the next 3-4 days after discussing with manufacturers and hospitals.
•  Around 1,07,67,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 so far in the first phase of vaccination which began on January 16, 2021. Almost 14 lakh people have received the second dose as well. In the first phase of the vaccination, only healthcare and frontline workers were vaccinated.

Cabinet approves imposition of President’s Rule in Puducherry

•  The Union Cabinet on February 24, 2021 approved the proposal to impose President’s Rule in Puducherry. The move comes just a few days after a Congress-led government in the union territory lost the trust vote in the assembly. 
•  Union Minister Prakash Javadekar announced the Cabinet decision, saying that the decision was taken as no party had claimed to form a government in Puducherry following the resignation of Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy. 
•  President Ram Nath Kovind on February 23 accepted the resignation of Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and his council of ministers.
•  Following this, Puducherry’s Lieutenant General had recommended President’s Rule in Puducherry and the Union Cabinet gave its approval for the same. The President’s rule will be officially imposed on the UT after President Ram Nath Kovind gives his assent.
•  Puducherry is soon going to have elections.The Election schedule is expected to be announced by the Election Commission soon. 

Ishant becomes Second Indian fast bowler to play 100 Tests

•  Ishant Sharma has become the second Indian fast bowler to play 100 Test matches. He reached the milestone when he bowled the first over in India vs England pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on February 24, 2021.
•  Former Indian skipper Kapil Dev was the only fast bowler to achieve the feat before this. 
•  Sharma has also become the fourth Indian bowler and the eleventh Indian cricketer to feature in 100 Test matches. 
•  Kapil Dev (131), Anil Kumble (132) and spinner Harbhajan Singh (103) are the only bowlers other than Ishant to feature in 100 Tests for India.

Subject Expert Committee to discuss Dr Reddy’s application seeking emergency use of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine

•  The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation’s (CDSCO) Subject Expert Committee (SEC) is scheduled to meet today to discuss Dr Reddy’s Laboratories application seeking emergency use approval (EUA) for Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine- SputnikV. 
•  Dr Reddy’s had partnered with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to conduct the clinical trials of the Sputnik V and for its distribution rights in India in September 2020. The vaccine is currently undergoing the phase 3 clinical trial in India.
•  According to Dr Reddy’s, Sputnik V vaccine has demonstrated an efficacy rate of 91.6 percent in the interim analysis of phase 3 clinical trial. The data covers  19,866 volunteers in Russia, who received both the first and second doses of the vaccine.
•  Overall, the Sputnik V vaccine has maintained a consistent efficacy at 91.8 percent even among the group of 2,144 volunteers over 60 years old. The vaccine has been developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

Union Environment Minister uses Sanskrit for first time at UNSC on climate change

•  Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar used Sanskrit for the first time in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Debate on climate change on February 23, 2021. 
•  Javadekar began his UNSC debate on climate change by addressing the other dignitaries with the Sanskrit hymn from Sukla Yajurveda. He asserted that there is no common, widely accepted methodology for assessing the connection between climate change, conflict and fragility.
•  He further added saying that fragility and climate impact are highly context-specific and the idea of climate action should not be to move the climate ambition goal post to 2050.
•  He emphasised on the importance of countries fulfilling their pre-2020 commitments and stated that climate action goes hand-in-hand with the framework for financial, technical and capacity-building support to countries that need it




The carbon offset API developer Patch confirms a $4.5 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz – TechCrunch


Patch, the carbon offset API developer, has raised $4.5 million in financing to build out its business selling customers a way to calculate their carbon footprint and identify and finance offset projects that capture the equivalent carbon dioxide emissions associated with that footprint. 

Confirming TechCrunch reporting, Andreessen Horowitz led the round, which also included previous investors VersionOne Ventures, MapleVC and Pale Blue Dot Ventures.

Patch’s application protocol interface works for both internal and customer-facing operations. The company’s code can integrate into the user experience on a company’s internal site to track things like business flights for employees, recommending and managing the purchase of carbon credits to offset employee travel.

The software allows companies to choose which projects they’d like to finance to support the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, with projects ranging from the tried and true reforestation and conservation projects to more high-tech early-stage technologies like direct air capture and sequestration projects, the company said. 

Patch founders Brennan Spellacy and Aaron Grunfeld, two former employees at the apartment rental service Sonder, stressed in an interview that the company’s offset work should not be viewed as an alternative to the decarbonization of businesses that use its service. Rather, they see Patch’s services as a complement to other work companies need to do to transition away from a reliance on fossil fuels in business operations.

Patch co-founders Brennan Spellacy and Aaron Grunfeld. Image Credit: Patch

Patch currently works with 11 carbon removal suppliers and has plans to onboard another 10 before the end of the first quarter, the company said. These are companies like CarbonCure, which injects carbon dioxide into cement and fixes it so that it’s embedded in building materials for as long as a building lasts.

“Carbon removal credits can help to dramatically accelerate the deployment of technologies like CarbonCure’s, which are absolutely critical to helping us reach our global climate targets. Demand for high-quality, permanent credits is sky-rocketing, and listing credits on Patch will help us to attract a broader range of buyers,” said Jennifer Wagner, president of CarbonCure Technologies, in a statement. 

It also has around 15 customers already using its service, according to earlier TechCrunch reporting. Those buyers include companies like TripActions and the private equity firm EQT, which intends to extend the integration of Patch’s API from its own operations to those of its portfolio companies down the road, according to Spellacy.

Grunfeld said that the company would be spending the money to hire more staff and developing new products. From its current headcount of six employees, Patch intends to bring on another 24 by the end of the year.

As the company expands, it’s looking to some of the startups providing carbon emissions audit and verification services as a channel that the company’s API can integrate with and sell through. These would be businesses like CarbonChainPersefoni and another Y Combinator graduate, SINAI Technologies.

“An increasing number of businesses are taking leadership positions in an effort to reduce emissions to try to counteract global warming,” said Jeff Jordan, managing partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “Patch makes it much easier for companies to add carbon removal to their core business processes, aggregating verified carbon-removal supply and offering turn-key access to it to companies through an easy-to-implement API.”




German court convicts former Syrian official of torture during anti-Assad uprisings



A court in the German town of Koblenz found Gharib guilty of detaining at least 30 opposition activists after anti-government demonstrations began in 2011. The court said that Gharib sent the protesters to an intelligence center where he knew they would be subjected to torture. Raslan remains on trial.

Wednesday’s decision was historic: the first court case in the world over state-sponsored torture under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Since the trial began in April, there have been testimonies from torture victims and witnesses, including a guard from the al-Khatib detention center, also known as Branch 251.

While Gharib may have been a low level officer, the trial involved evidence on how the highest levels of Syria’s state apparatus used torture and war crimes to forcibly suppress mass demonstrations.

The court said it had found that the Syrian government carried out an “extensive and systematic attack on the civilian population” when the large scale street protests of the Arab Spring reached Syria.

“It’s a milestone but it’s a first step in a very long way to reach justice,” said Wassim Mukdad, who was detained in Syria in September 2011 and gave evidence in court.

He said that giving testimony felt like the first time that he told his story that felt like it could make a difference.

One of more than a dozen Syrians who took the stand, Mukdad recounted how he was blindfolded and hit with a rifle, before being loaded onto a bus and taken to Branch 251. During a total of 16 days in detention, he lost more than 37 pounds. At one point he said he was packed into a cell a little over 230-square feet with 87 others. He described the experience as “hell.”

“The brutal physical and psychological abuse had been used to force confessions, to obtain information about the opposition movement and to deter the prisoners from further protesting against the government,” the court said in a statement after the verdict. 

In Branch 251, it said, there was torture using electric shocks, beatings and severe psychological abuse to obtain forced confessions. Prisoners were denied access to sufficient food or medical care and kept in inhumane conditions, it found.

Gharib was convicted of rounding up demonstrators following a protest in the Syrian city of Douma and accompanying them by bus to Branch 251, despite knowing of the widespread abuses that happened there.

“This verdict is against a single individual and he’s been, I think correctly, referred to as a relatively small fish,” said Steve Kostas, legal officer for the Open Society Justice Initiative, which represents Syrian victims who have given evidence at the trial. “But the evidence in the case in order to prove the crime against humanity involved demonstrating the role of the entire Syrian government intelligence agencies going up to the highest levels.”

In his closing arguments last week, Gharib’s defense lawyer began by reading a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., saying he had a dream that humanity had learned from the crimes in history, according to the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights’ account of the trial.

The lawyer emphasized that Gharib helped as a witness against the other defendant, Raslan, and his behavior after his alleged crimes showed remorse: He had defected from Syria and apologized to the victims in a letter.

He also said that Gharib had to follow his superiors’ orders. Evidence presented German authorities has included documentation from the Syrian defector code-named Caesar who smuggled thousands of pictures of torture victims out of Syria. But much of the evidence against Gharib was based on his own testimony to authorities when he applied for asylum in Germany.

In an initial May 2018 asylum interview, he admitted working with Syrian intelligence but said he was a witness to abuses. In a later police interview, he admitted detaining demonstrators.

As his defense attorney spoke, Gharib wept before saying he had nothing to add.

Although some were quick to criticize what was perceived as a relatively short sentence, the decision still offers Syrian victims a new kind of hope: Sometimes, justice prevails.

“I believe that this is just one step on a long and hard road to achieving any justice for Syria and its children,” said Wafa Mustafa, a Berlin-based Syrian activist who campaigns on freeing detainees in Syria. “My most important hope and my most important message is that this is a chance for the whole world … to do more than just talk. This is a chance to save all the detainees who we can still save.”

While states can normally only prosecute crimes committed on their own territory, the case used the principle of universal jurisdiction, which is enshrined in German law and allows for the overseas trials of those accused of committing grave acts such as genocide or war crimes.

The trial “shows that it’s possible with drive and perseverance and determined prosecutors for victims to have their day in court,” said Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch.

“Over the last ten months, courageous survivors have provided testimony about horrific abuses committed in Syria’s ghastly archipelago of prisons,” Jarrah said in a statement. “This case not only speaks to the role of the two suspects but also lays bare the Syrian government’s systemic torture and killing of tens of thousands of people.”

Hearings in Raslan’s trial are expected to continue until at least fall this year. He is accused of crimes that took place before he defected in 2012. The trial was set in motion after a chance encounter in Berlin two years later, when Anwar al-Bunni, a prominent Syrian human rights lawyer, recognized Raslan in his refugee center as the man who had arrested him in Damascus in 2006 before he spent five years in prison.

Dadouch reported from Beirut. Luisa Beck in Berlin also contributed to this story.


Vijay Sampla becomes new Chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes



Vijay Sampla on February 24, 2021, took the charge of Chairman National Commission for Scheduled Castes- NCSC. He has been a former Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment from 2014-2019.

The Union Minister Som Prakash, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Krishna Pal Gurjar, former Chairman of NCSC, BJP MP Hans Raj Hans as well as other members of the Commission were also present during the occasion. Vijay Sampla assumed the position of Chairman of NCSC after being appointed by the President of India.

NCSC is an Indian Constitutional body that has been established to provide safeguards against the exploitation of Scheduled Castes and for promoting and protecting their economic, educational, social, cultural interests and other provisions in the Constitution.

NCSC to prevent injustice to Schedule Caste Community:

Vijay Sampla, after taking the charge of the National Commission for Scheduled Caste, stated that he will work constantly to safeguard the interest of and rights of the community. He further added that NCSC will not only be working to ensure justice to SCs but will also be extremely pro-active in preventing any form of injustice to the Scheduled Caste.

While giving details, Vijay Sampla informed that the commission will be advising and participating in the planning process of socio-economic development of the community and to prevent atrocities among them.

About Vijay Sampla:

He has been the State President of BJP from Punjab and the Union Minister of State. From 2009-12, he served as the Chairman of Khadi and Village Industries Board, Punjab and his name was also recommended for the Rashtrapati Award.

Sampla won the General Elections of 2014 from ‘Hoshiarpur’ Constituency of Lok Sabha and from November 9, 2014, to May 24, 2019, he was the Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment. He has been actively involved in the welfare and upliftment of deprived classes of society.




Noya Labs turns cooling towers into direct air capture devices for CO2 emissions – TechCrunch


Not every company’s founders find themselves on a first-name basis with the local bomb squad, but then again not every company is Noya Labs, which wants to turn the roughly 2 million cooling towers at industrial sites and buildings across the U.S. into CO2-sucking weapons in the fight against global climate change.

When the company first started developing prototypes of its devices that attach to water coolers, the company’s founders, Josh Santos and Daniel Cavero, did what all good founders do, they started building in their backyard.

The sight of a 55-gallon oil drum and a yellow refrigeration tank in a sous vide bath attached to red and blue cables didn’t sit so well with the neighbors, so Santos and Cavero found themselves playing host to the bomb squad multiple times, according to the company’s chief executive, Santos.

“We proved that it could capture CO2, and we achieved something that no startup should achieve,” Santos said of the dubious bomb squad distinction.

Santos and Cavero were inspired to begin their experiments with direct air capture by an article describing some research into plants’ declining ability to capture carbon dioxide that Santos read on Caltrain on his way to work back in 2019. That article spurred the would-be entrepreneur and his roommate to get to work on experimenting with carbon chemistry.

Their first product was a consumer air purifier that would pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in homes and capture it. Homeowners could then sell the captured gases to Santos and Cavero who would then resell it. But the two quickly realized that the business model wasn’t economical, and went back to the drawing board.

They found their eventual application in industrial cooling towers, which the company’s tech can turn into CO2-capturing devices that have the capacity to take in between half a ton and a ton of carbon dioxide per day.

Noya’s tech works by adding a blend of CO2-absorbing chemicals to the water in the cooling towers. They then add an attachment to the cooling tower that activates what Santos called a regeneration process to convert the captured CO2 back into gas. Once they have captured the CO2 the company will look to resell it to industrial CO2 consumers.

It’s not green yet, at least not exactly, because that CO2 is being recirculated instead of sequestered, but Santos said it’s greener than existing sources of the gas, which come from ammonia and ethanol plants.

Noya Labs co-founders Josh Santos and Daniel Cavero. Image Credit: Noya Labs

Five years from now we fully intend to have vertically integrated carbon capture and sequestration. Our first step is locally produced low-cost atmospherically captured CO2,” said Santos. “If we were to go all-in on a carbon capture, that would require a lot of time for us to develop. What this initial model allows us to do is fine-tune our capture technology while building up long-term to go to market.”

Santos called it the “Tesla roadster approach” so that the company can build up capital and get revenue and prove one piece of it as an MVP so they can prove other steps of it down the line.

Noya Labs already is developing a pilot plant with the Alexandre Family Farm that should capture between the estimated half a ton and one-ton target.

To develop the initial pilot and build out its team, the company has managed to raise $1.2 million from the frontier tech investment firm Fifty Years, founded by Ela Madej and Seth Bannon, and Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital (whose mission statement to invest in companies that will buy time to “unf*ck the planet” might be one of the greatest). The company’s also in Y Combinator.

“One of the things that makes us excited about this technology is that in the U.S. alone there are 2 million cooling towers. Looking conservatively — if our initial pilot plant can capture 1 ton per day — we’re at right over half a gigaton of CO2 capture.”

And companies are already raising their hands to pick up the CO2 that Noya would sell on the market. There’s a growing collection of startups that are using CO2 to make products. These companies range from the slightly silly, like Aether Diamonds, which uses CO2 to make… diamonds; to companies like Dimensional Energy or Prometheus Fuels, which make synthetic fuels with CO2, or Opus12, which uses CO2 in its replacements for petrochemicals.

Prices for commercial CO2 range between $125 per ton to $5,000 per ton, according to Santos. And Noya would be producing at less than $100 per ton. Current Direct Air Capture companies sell their CO2 from somewhere between $600 to $700 per ton.

Stoya’s first installation could cost around $250,000, Santos said. For Bannon, that means the company passes his “Mr. Burns test.”

“We’ve been digging into the DAC space but haven’t liked the techno-economics we’ve seen. Previous approaches have had too much capex and opex and not enough revenue potential,” Bannon wrote in an email. “That’s what Noya has solved. By leveraging existing industrial equipment, their model is profitable. And better yet, they make their carbon capture partners money, allowing them to scale this up fast. This creates an opportunity to profitably remove 1 gigaton-plus a year.”