Aug 19, 2019

Stripe's plan to fund direct CO2 removal

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

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 5,375,648 — Total deaths: 343,721 — Total recoveries — 2,149,412Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 1,639,872 — Total deaths: 97,599 — Total recoveries: 361,239 — Total tested: 13,784,786Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.

Trumpworld's plan to brand Biden

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mandel Ngan/AFP

Trump's advisers relish the contrast between his public appearances and Joe Biden's lack thereof. The former vice president, following the guidance of public experts, has eschewed public events and stayed home for months now. Trump, meanwhile, is out and about — masks be damned.

What we're hearing: Watch for plenty more mask-free outings from Trump, hyping the reopening of the economy and avoiding discussions of social distancing and death counts.