Shopify hopes to 'kickstart the market' by buying contract to suck CO2 out of the air — 10,000 tons of it

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Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc. announced Tuesday it will pay to remove 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, marking one of the first corporations to utilize large-scale carbon removal technology as part of its effort to limit climate change.

Under the deal, Shopify will pay an undisclosed amount to Squamish, B.C.-based Carbon Engineering Ltd to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon Engineering will achieve this through its U.S. partner 1PointFive, which is building a plant in Texas capable of removing 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year once its completed by 2024.

It marks the second time Shopify has earmarked money to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, having announced a deal last September with Switzerland-based Climeworks to remove 5,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Shopify did not disclose the cost, or the timeline for when the 15,000 tonnes will be removed, though it did say both efforts were paid for through its annual $5 million sustainability fund. Its investments mark the most concrete signs to date what a commercial marketplace to support the technology used to remove CO2 could look like, as more corporations step up their efforts to address climate change.

“We wanted to make sure we were sending a very strong market signal about the importance of supporting innovative technologies like this,” Stacy Kauk, director of Shopify’s Sustainability Fund, based in Ottawa, told the Financial Post.

Kauk said the company is hoping “to kickstart the market,” so that other companies follow suit and invest in carbon removal, and eventually economies of scale reduce the costs.

Shopify, with a US$137.6 billion market cap stands as Canada’s largest company, provides the back-end e-commerce technology that powers many small businesses’ websites.