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Shopify Targets Carbon Removal Tech Firms

Roberto Cortese

When it comes to corporate sustainability programs, much of the attention is focused on carbon offsets–neutralizing your emissions by paying someone else to reduce theirs. Another, more effective solution is carbon removal, which means paying someone else to take carbon out of the atmosphere through reforestation and other means.

Canadian e-commerce company, Shopify, aims to promote the latter option by funding carbon-removal purchases. Its latest round was announced this spring when Shopify agreed to provide $13.5 million to nine new tech startups as part of its carbon-removal purchase program. This round pushed Shopify’s total carbon-removal purchase commitment to $32 million.

Photo Courtesy Roberto Cortese

Shopify is the largest carbon-removal purchaser for eight of the startups, and the first purchaser for four of them. The money will allow the startups to secure financing, scale their operations and provide effective and affordable carbon-removal solutions to more customers.

“We’re calling on other companies to join us and help scale carbon removal,” Shopify head of sustainability Stacy Kauk said in a press release. “Without a greater demand signal, the nascent long-term carbon removal market could collapse.”

Shopify selected the companies based on several factors, including their technology, plans to scale, and potential carbon impact. Financing will be from Shopify’s Sustainability Fund, which launched three years ago. Since then, the fund has helped multiple companies raise tens of millions of dollars, increase their carbon removal capacity by as much as 80-fold, and grow their customer bases by up to 40-fold.

Photo Courtesy Roberto Cortese

With the addition of the nine latest companies, Shopify’s Sustainability Fund has now provided financing to 22 companies.

The fund is divided into two portfolios: the Frontier Portfolio, which invests in innovative companies and technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it for the long term; and the Evergreen Portfolio, which invests in solutions that either temporarily remove carbon through approaches such as soil carbon storage and reforestation, or reduce carbon emissions with renewable power and clean fuels. 

Shopify’s latest carbon-removal purchases from its Frontier Portfolio include the following companies:

44.01: Injects captured carbon dioxide into peridotite rock formations, where it mineralizes safely and permanently. 

Carbin Minerals: Accelerates and optimizes permanent carbon removal in mine tailings to help mines produce both net-negative emissions and essential metals for the clean energy transition. 

CarbonBuilt: Develops technology that enables the production of low-cost, low-carbon and concrete products.

Noya: Develops technology that captures CO2 from air moved by existing cooling towers on top of commercial and industrial buildings. 

Sustaera is creating modular direct air capture technology that costs less than $100 per tonne at scale by using naturally available and abundant materials that rapidly absorb atmospheric CO2 and can be regenerated using renewable energy. 

The recent purchases from Shopify’s Evergreen Portfolio include these companies:

DroneSeed: Reforests land affected by wildfires by combining legacy practices with new technology such as drones to mitigate the loss of forests due to climate change. 

Loam: Developed a microbial seed coating that increases carbon in soils, improves crop yields and is simple for farmers to apply.

Remora: Develops technology that captures CO2 from semi-truck tailpipes as they drive and transfer the CO2 into long-term storage. 

Twelve: Transforms captured CO2 to produce E-Jet aviation fuel with an 80%+ lower carbon footprint than jet fuel from fossil fuels. 

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