Stripe, the major online payment platform, announced Thursday that it is focusing its Sustainability Paperback on technologies designed to capture and store ground-warming gases from the air.
The company stated that it is already fully compensating for its greenhouse gas emissions and investing in green projects that reduce emissions elsewhere. Achieving this carbon neutral goal has been considered the gold standard by many companies. Stripe goes a step further and invests its money in technologies that lead to negative emissions. It has now committed to spend twice as much as currently compensating for carbon sequestration. The purchase of tons of carbon dioxide released from the atmosphere will provide at least $ 1
It's one of the first big companies to do this. As negative emissions technologies are still evolving, they are associated with high prices, concerns about technology readiness, and a lack of measures that could either stimulate or regulate the industry.
For Carbon Capture companies that wanted to break into the mainstream, Stripes announcement was a source of great excitement] and of course hopes the company that others will follow.
"What we really need to see today is that other technology companies are taking the lead and engaging in similar engagement," said Noah Deich, Executive Director of Carbon180, the former Center for Carbon Removal The Verge . "A commitment of $ 1 million is not even a rounding error for [some] large technology companies, but could be absolutely catalytic for the field of negative-emission technology and for our wider fight against climate change."
To avoid the most catastrophic effects In the face of climate change, the planet must stop reaching global average temperatures that are 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In its groundbreaking report published last year, the United Nations predicted that we could reach this critical point by 2030. It also states that any way to avoid this future requires technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere.
The collected carbon This commitment from Stripe to purchase could be due to three types of carbon sequestration described in the announcement. It was not clear which projects should be funded, but interest was expressed in initiatives aimed at improving natural carbon sinks such as forests and soils. It even mentions a project where plant roots are "hacked" so that they can store more carbon for longer. It could also accept increased weathering projects, a process that uses chemical reactions to trap carbon in the rock. Finally, it can buy recovered carbon from plants that directly absorb carbon from the air.
To what extent will $ 1 million per year contribute to slowing climate change? Stripe acknowledged that investing in technologies with negative emissions is significantly more expensive than the previous policy of paying for carbon offsets, which claims to have spent $ 8 per tonne of CO2. It is expected that per tonne of bound carbon, "certainly more than $ 100" will be paid. But even this amount is optimistic; For years, cost constraints hinder development. The cost per ton of carbon from direct air separation can still amount to over $ 600. At this rate, Stripe's annual investment would be equivalent to an annual shutdown of just over 300 passenger cars.
A cascade of new technology buyers for carbon capture could bring that price closer to $ 100, meaning $ 1 million could be pushed closer to 2,000 cars.
For now, Stripe hopes to act as a catalyst to get more companies to buy bonded carbon. In his announcement, Stripe said, "Researchers and entrepreneurs are working to create this new industry today, and further progress will require the funding of experimental prototypes at an initially high cost. This gives Stripe and like-minded early adopters the opportunity to change course. The company compared the move it made with early investors in solar modules, which saw a price drop of around $ 30 per watt in 1980 to less than $ 1 per watt Year 2019 recorded.
There will be other hurdles. Even the most advanced negative carbon technologies are largely still prototypes. Deich believes that the technologies are ready for early deployment, even though the requirements for scaling are not met. "To prepare for prime time, we need to see that technology is being used on a commercial scale for a handful of projects, and that the regulatory and financial mechanisms and broader ecosystem are building on it in a truly robust way. Says dike.
Although there is a scientific consensus on the need to extract carbon from the air, there is concern that the heavy use of carbon and negative emissions technologies could undo efforts to reduce fossil fuel use , "It divides CO2 emissions without companies being responsible for the entire pipeline for fossil fuels," says Adrien Salazar, campaign strategist at Demos think tank, who helped shape a potential climate change policy such as a federal Green New Deal. "Many of the pollutants produced by burning fossil fuels that have an impact on public health are not addressed here."
Salazar is skeptical that the new technologies will be a silver bullet for big bad climate change. "The technology is unreliable, it has not proven to be cost effective, and the risk of allowing continued pollution is too great to invest billions of dollars in a technology that is supposed to keep the fossil fuel industry alive. Says Salazar.
Nevertheless, early innovators in the field of negative-emission technology are demanding a slice of Strip's $ 1 million commitment, and Global Thermostat, a company Stripe mentioned in his announcement, has been working on a project A spokesperson for Global Thermostat announced The Verge on Friday that Stripe had not yet been in touch, but that "it would be a pleasure to hold a conversation".
Christian Anderson, Head of Merchant Intelligence at Stripe, assures that projects for negative emissions must take place alongside the actual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The Verge says that the company plans to continue its commitment as long as it does This is measured by how projects with negative emissions can increase and how Cost of participation decline. However, he is optimistic that other technology companies that he could not divulge have shown interest in participating in their project.
"Our motivation is to do good to the world," says Anderson. "I think it's a motivation that can definitely leave other companies behind."