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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The payment tech company Stripe plans to fund direct removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its long-term storage.

Why it matters: Experts in carbon removal methods, such as direct air capture and large-scale forest creation, call the announcement a milestone in corporate climate initiatives.

The big picture: A UN-led scientific report in 2018 concluded that pathways for holding temperature rise to 1.5°C require some level of carbon removal — not just steeply cutting and preventing emissions.

Driving the news: Late last week Stripe said it's soliciting information from parties looking to commercialize various techniques. There's at least 3 types of ongoing projects they might fund...

  • Improving natural carbon sinks with forestry, soil and farmland management techniques.
  • Direct air capture.
  • Carbon uptake in mineral formations.

By the numbers: "We expect that the best price will initially be very high: almost certainly more than $100 per tCO2, as compared to the $8 per tCO2 we pay for offsets," Stripe's Christian Anderson said in his post announcing the plan.

  • The company plans to spend at least $1 million per year to fund the carbon-sucking efforts, per Anderson, an engineering exec with Stripe.

What's next: Anderson said Stripe planned to select an "initial solution to purchase" in the third quarter.

  • He also urged other companies to follow suit and participate in joint-purchasing with Stripe.
  • "If a broad coalition of buyers commits substantial investment, we’re optimistic that the price curve will start to move," he writes.

What they're saying: "It's breathtaking and audacious, and very much worth doing," says Julio Friedmann, a former DOE official now with a Columbia University energy think tank.

  • "While Stripe is the first company to make this pledge, I certainly hope and expect they won't be the last," he tells Axios.
  • "I hope and expect this to be the first domino in a series — that's really what the CO2 removal market needs," adds Friedmann, who also is CEO of the firm Carbon Wrangler.
  • Stripe "is the first tech company I've seen talk publicly about going beyond net zero emissions to achieve net 'negative' emissions in order to be a climate leader," says Noah Deich, executive director of the group Carbon180, via Twitter.

One level deeper: I asked Deich about whether a $1 million annual commitment really matters. His reply...

  • "[I]t's roughly the commitment I would expect a software company of Stripe's size and emissions profile to pay for voluntary offsets today."
  • He calls it a "great start" that will "make a difference" in the nascent space, while noting it's still a drop in the bucket in terms of what's needed to drive down technology costs.

The bottom line: "If every tech company over $1 billion in valuation joined Stripe at this $1 million/year level, it would make an enormous difference in the pace of negative emissions technology innovation and development," Deich says.

Go deeper ... Earth’s climate-change liposuction: Sucking carbon from the air

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

2 hours ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).