The Future is Green: Shopify Invests $5M in Sustainability Technologies

Back in 2019, Shopify decided to give back a little to the world, and created a Sustainability Fund. The purpose of this fund is to promote green tech, aka sustainability technologies, and for that, Shopify committed to invest 5 million dollars at the least into the most promising technologies.

The company is also a hardcore believer in fighting climate change, and invests heavily (both time and resources) in reversing climate change by any means necessary, to quote from the classics.

To put it simply, the Ottawa based company put its money where its mouth was, literally speaking, and it currently works (and funds) with innovative companies like Climeworks and Indigo AG, in order to reduce CO2 levels in Earth’s atmosphere.

The money put forward by Shopify are going into enabling startups and small companies to scale up and make the respective technologies available to the general public, in a bid to help protect and restore our world.

Here’s the CEO of Shopify Tobi Lütke:

“While Shopify is investing in proven solutions that are already fighting climate change, we are placing bets on high-potential technologies at the frontier of the carbon removal industry. Our goal is to help prove, scale, and commercialize climate technology for massive impact in the long-term.”

Shopify’s Sustainability Fund is currently divided into 2 portfolios: the Frontier portfolio and the Evergreen portfolio. The former is focused on state of the art tech to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and by the way, Shopify is often the first customer, while the latter is aimed at finding feasible solutions to temporarily offset CO2 emissions or to remove carbon. Often times, these are natural based methods, such as regenerative agricultural practices and reforestation.

Ideally speaking, in order to address pollution and climate change via research and strategic investments, a melange of the two solutions must be implemented, i.e. both engineered and natural methods must be implemented, and that’s why Shopify invests in different industries.

For example, the Canadian company spent 1.6 million dollars on carbon sequestration, which consists of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and permanently storing it.

Among Shopify’s favorite “climate change fighters” are 2 companies specialized in carbon removal, Carbon Engineering and Planetary Hydrogen respectively. Shopify is currently buying carbon removals from Carbon Engineering and Planetary Hydrogen, thus helping them scale by funding their innovative technologies, and allowing them to become commercially viable for the general public by offering more affordable and efficient CO2 reduction options in the near future.

Shopify’s complete list of investments in the current year includes Carbon Engineering, Planetary Hydrogen, CarbonCure, Climeworks, Charm Industrial, Indigo Ag, Nori, Soil Value Exchange, Running Tide, and Pachama.

Another way of fighting climate change is by offsetting the delivery emissions of all purchases made by Shopify customers who use Shop Pay. According to Shopify, Shop Pay is carbon neutral, and it helped protect the equivalent of 15 million trees to offset over 12,000 tons of carbon emissions so far.

Moreover, Shopify launched Offset earlier this year, an app designed for merchants looking to minimize their environmental footprint. Here’s the official data from Shopify’s Sustainability Fund Investments as of August 31, 2020:

Frontier Portfolio

  • Carbon Engineering: Developed unique direct air capture technology that can take carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. They’re working to build facilities that will capture one million tons of carbon dioxide per year—the equivalent of 40 million trees. Shopify will invest in CO2 removal from its Innovation Centre to help scale for the future.
  • Planetary Hydrogen: Uses their innovative SEAOH2 system to produce ultra-green hydrogen while helping fight ocean acidification, and removing and sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere for 100,000 years. Shopify intends to purchase carbon removals from their pilot facility, allowing them to conduct important research to scale to their first fully-functional plant.
  • CarbonCure: Permanently sequesters carbon dioxide in concrete during production while improving its strength and resource efficiency at 300 plants worldwide. Shopify’s offset purchase accelerates CarbonCure’s timeline for global expansion and new technology deployment to achieve its annual 500 million tonne carbon dioxide removal target. 
  • Climeworks: Empowers people to reverse climate change by permanently removing carbon dioxide from the air. The captured carbon dioxide can either be recycled and used as a raw material in the circular economy or permanently removed and stored underground. Climeworks’ direct air capture technology runs exclusively on green energy. Shopify is purchasing permanent storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide to account for some of our unavoidable emissions from our business operations.
  • Charm Industrial: Developed a new, patent-pending method that takes atmospheric carbon dioxide stored in biomass, converts the biomass to a liquid similar to crude oil, and injects it into rock formations that have stored crude oil for hundreds of millions of years. With Shopify’s purchase, Charm will be able to bring this new method another 10% down the cost curve, accelerating development of a cost-effective and scalable negative emissions solution. 
  • Running Tide: Their pilot project will grow mass amounts of sea kelp, then sink it to sequester its carbon deep in the North Atlantic ocean. Shopify’s investment intends to enable Running Tide to recover and monitor their research data to assess the success of their innovative approach. 
  • An industry-leading marketplace that has created an international standard for carbon removals, brings together suppliers of carbon net-negative technologies and buyers who purchase their verified carbon removal credits. Shopify is purchasing carbon removals from three biochar providers: Carbofex, ECHO2, and Ecoera. With Shopify’s purchase, these biochar producers are able to remove bottlenecks in their production and scale more quickly.

Evergreen Portfolio

  • Indigo Ag: Built the first updated, coast-to-coast US map for regenerative farming practices, powered by satellite technology and ground and historical agronomic data. Their carbon program, which pays farmers for sequestering carbon through the soil and reducing emissions on their farm, is transitioning agriculture from a leading contributor to climate change to a significant and meaningful part of the solution. Shopify hopes its purchase will help farmers drive awareness and increase demand for carbon storage through regenerative agriculture.
  • Nori: Their marketplace helps farmers who have adopted regenerative agriculture practices sell carbon removal based on the carbon stored in their soil from these efforts. Shopify’s purchase intends to support Nori as it develops a new model for verifying, registering, and monitoring carbon removals, scaling beyond soil and into other types of carbon removal.
  • Soil Value Exchange: Matches ranchers and farmers who practice soil carbon storage with companies looking to capture and store their emissions. Shopify is the first to purchase soil carbon storage from Soil Value Exchange. The goal is to demonstrate value and demand for grassland soil carbon storage, and support the ranchers who choose to adopt regenerative grazing practices that draw down carbon from the atmosphere.
  • Pachama: Verifies forest carbon projects using machine learning and remote monitoring to provide a new standard of assurance in carbon markets. Pachama’s online platform allows individuals and companies to compensate for emissions by purchasing carbon credits from verified forest projects. Shopify is purchasing verified forest carbon credits from reforestation and conservation projects to offset delivery emissions from purchases made on Shop, our shopping assistant app, and with Offset, an app for merchants.

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