Businesses play an important role when it comes to mitigating climate change – and while this realization is shared widely, some pioneering businesses are already taking action and thereby inspiring others to follow suit.
The climate is changing, and it is already taking a measurable toll. Emission reductions, offsets and carbon dioxide removal – we need all solutions working together to limit global warming to pre-industrial levels. While offsets prevent an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, negative emissions technologies like carbon dioxide removal reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by removing it and storing it safely and permanently.
Humanity has emitted (and is still emitting) way too much carbon dioxide. Studies show that if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C, we will require gigaton-scale carbon dioxide removal in 2050. We need negative emissions technologies (NETs) such as carbon dioxide removal to safely and permanently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The longer we wait to push them forward, the more we have to rely on them in the future. Our carbon debt is growing – the more carbon dioxide we emit now, the more we will have to remove from the air later. It is becoming increasingly clear that we need to #actnow, and the public pressure is rising. And businesses are starting to realize this, too.
More than 350 businesses have pledged to the science-based target initiative and set their emissions reduction targets in line with climate science to help keep global warming below dangerous levels. A handful of pioneering companies have even pledged to reach net zero by 2050.
One of the first to take a stand for NETs publicly was Stripe. The company, based in California’s Silicon Valley, already addresses climate change on various levels. In addition to reducing their own emissions, Stripe is investing 1 million USD annually to pay, at any price, for the direct removal of carbon dioxide from the air and its sequestration in secure long-term storage.
We are very happy to reveal that Climeworks is one of four companies that Stripe is purchasing carbon dioxide removal from. We will remove a substantial amount of carbon dioxide from the air and store it safely and permanently in Stripe’s name.
What makes Stripe a true pioneer is that they are acting in parallel: reducing emissions AND removing emissions to prevent the carbon debt from growing. Climeworks and Stripe agree that negative emission technologies may never be considered a substitute for emission reductions. We need all solutions working together. By being willing to purchase carbon dioxide removal regardless of the price, Stripe also helps to scale up this necessary technology.
Nan Ransohoff, who leads Stripe’s work on climate, said: “Stripe is excited to support negative emissions technologies that have the potential to permanently remove carbon at high volumes and low cost — even if not there today. Climeworks, with its ambitious cost-volume curve and permanent carbon removal, is a great example of the kinds of solutions we hope to see many more of.”
The price per ton of carbon dioxide for carbon dioxide removal is still comparatively high. Stripe has the potential to become a catalyst for other companies to also take action, serving both the companies and the price per ton of carbon dioxide: the more pioneering customers, the faster the scale-up. This will lead to massive cost reductions and to making carbon dioxide removal widely available, causing an increase of demand. We have seen repeatedly that an increase in demand leads to a better supply. Perhaps the most prominent example is solar energy whose price per watt dropped from 30 USD in the 1980s to less than 1 USD today.
The strong actions that Stripe and other companies are already taking today are helping to motivate other businesses to make climate-related decisions. As part of the Climate Week NCY, Climeworks, Stripe and Swiss Re participated in a virtual panel discussion on the advantages and obstacles of carbon dioxide removal. Jennifer Wilcox, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, provided important scientific input. Artist Nina Holenstein accompanied the inspiring discussions with a live drawing, summarizing the most important points from the panel discussion.
How businesses can move from carbon neutral to net zero: an illustration by Nina Holenstein