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Etsy is offsetting all of its carbon dioxide emissions from shipping at an annual cost of less than $1 million, the company is announcing today.

The big picture: The e-commerce company is the latest in corporate America to ramp up action on climate change in response to the public’s growing awareness on the issue and President Trump’s dismissal of it.

The details: The company is investing in clean-energy and environmental restoration with three projects around the world that it says offsets (compensates for) its shipping emissions.

  1. Preserving a forest in Minnesota
  2. Subsidizing wind and solar energy in India
  3. Subsidizing the use of cleaner, alternative chemicals in the auto industry
“The initial thinking was that we would create an option at checkout that allows buyers to choose to offset the cost of shipping a package. When I saw it was less than a penny per package, why on Earth would we add a checkbox, why don’t we just do it.”
— Josh Silverman, Etsy CEO in Axios interview

But, but, but: The effectiveness of this type of policy, called carbon offsetting, is disputed for a few reasons. Whether the aforementioned projects are reliant on the related investment or would have happened otherwise is up for debate, though Silverman says his company is ensuring they fit the bill for genuine offsets.

  • “We don’t have 20 years. We need to move now,” said Silverman, arguing that implementing an offsetting policy is quicker than trying to reduce its supply chain emissions, which it doesn’t directly control.

What’s next: Etsy, which already has a 100% renewable-electricity goal it’s expected to meet by 2020, is offsetting the entire U.S. package-shipping industry’s emissions Thursday, at a cost Silverman says is less than $100,000, to raise awareness on the issue.

Go deeper: Taking a different route, Amazon announced earlier this month its plans to make half of all its shipments carbon-neutral within 11 years by urging suppliers to make greener packaging and investing in renewable energy, per the AP.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.

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