Fighting for the Future: Shopify Invests $5M in Breakthrough Sustainability Technologies

Fighting for the Future: Shopify Invests $5M in Breakthrough Sustainability Technologies

One year ago, we launched Shopify’s Sustainability Fund, our commitment to invest a minimum of $5 million annually into the most promising, impactful technologies and projects fighting climate change globally. Today, we’re excited to share how we’ve invested our time, energy, and resources into the projects we believe have the highest potential to reverse climate change.

We are funding innovative companies focused on reducing carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. Our investments will enable these companies to scale and commercialize their technologies, kickstarting market forces and spurring solutions that will help protect and restore our planet.

“While Shopify is investing in proven solutions that are already fighting climate change, we are placing bets on high-potential technologies at the frontier of the carbon removal industry,” said Tobi Lütke, CEO. “Our goal is to help prove, scale, and commercialize climate technology for massive impact in the long-term.”

We divided our fund into two portfolios:

  1. Frontier Portfolio: Groundbreaking technologies and companies that permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere. Often, Shopify is their first customer. Our investments fund pilot projects and research to validate (or disprove) their approaches, and we will continue to support these companies as they scale. We believe these solutions have massive potential to reverse climate change. Our goal is to spend most of our fund in this category each year.
  2. Evergreen Portfolio: Key solutions that temporarily remove carbon or reduce carbon emissions. Often these are nature-based approaches, like reforestation and regenerative agricultural practices. We need to invest in options like these so we can put them to use right now while other permanent carbon removal technologies begin to scale for the long-term.

We strategically selected companies with the most promising climate solutions and technologies based on research and careful consideration. It’s important that both natural and engineered solutions scale, which is why we’ve invested in a wide variety of industries. We spent $1.6 million on carbon sequestration—taking carbon out of the air and permanently storing it.  

Our investments include two pioneers of carbon removal, Carbon Engineering and Planetary Hydrogen. By purchasing carbon removals from their early projects, we are helping fund their innovation, allowing them to scale to their first commercial plants and offer more affordable, effective carbon reduction options in the future. Our complete list of 2020 investments includes Carbon Engineering, Planetary Hydrogen, CarbonCure, Climeworks, Charm Industrial, Indigo Ag, Nori, Soil Value Exchange, Running Tide, Puro.earth and Pachama. Details on each can be found below. 

Our efforts don’t stop with Shopify’s Sustainability Fund. Across every part of the company, we look for ways to work toward our mission of making commerce better for everyone, including our planet. Shop Pay is one of the first carbon-neutral ways to pay. Shopify offsets the delivery emissions of all purchases made by consumers who use Shop Pay, at no cost to them. To date,* we’ve offset the delivery emissions of over 50 million orders purchased through Shop Pay. Put another way, we’ve protected the equivalent of more than 15 million trees to offset over 12,000 tons of carbon emissions. That’s equivalent to over 1.5 billion smartphones charged. Earlier this year, we also launched Offset, an app for merchants designed to help them minimize their environmental footprint affordably and easily. 

As we look toward 2021, we continually explore how to make the most intelligent, effective investments for a more sustainable future. As part of this, we have set our goal even higher. Over the next year, we will identify ways to work towards achieving net zero emissions—focusing our efforts on strategic emissions reductions and removing as much carbon from the atmosphere as we emit. This will lead to more impactful change than we could achieve by remaining carbon neutral.

To make sustainability more attainable for everyone, we must increase demand in the carbon removal market. For this reason, we will continue to create ways to make environmental practices a core part of commerce transactions, from packaging and shipping to product development. 

To learn more about our sustainability efforts visit Shopify’s Sustainability Fund.

Shopify’s Sustainability Fund Investments 

Frontier Portfolio

  • Carbon Engineering: Developed unique direct air capture technology that can take carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. They’re working to build facilities that will capture one million tons of carbon dioxide per year—the equivalent of 40 million trees. Shopify will invest in CO2 removal from its Innovation Centre to help scale for the future.
  • Planetary Hydrogen: Uses their innovative SEAOH2 system to produce ultra-green hydrogen while helping fight ocean acidification, and removing and sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere for 100,000 years. Shopify intends to purchase carbon removals from their pilot facility, allowing them to conduct important research to scale to their first fully-functional plant.
  • CarbonCure: Permanently sequesters carbon dioxide in concrete during production while improving its strength and resource efficiency at 300 plants worldwide. Shopify’s offset purchase accelerates CarbonCure’s timeline for global expansion and new technology deployment to achieve its annual 500 million tonne carbon dioxide removal target. 
  • Climeworks: Empowers people to reverse climate change by permanently removing carbon dioxide from the air. The captured carbon dioxide can either be recycled and used as a raw material in the circular economy or permanently removed and stored underground. Climeworks’ direct air capture technology runs exclusively on green energy. Shopify is purchasing permanent storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide to account for some of our unavoidable emissions from our business operations.
  • Charm Industrial: Developed a new, patent-pending method that takes atmospheric carbon dioxide stored in biomass, converts the biomass to a liquid similar to crude oil, and injects it into rock formations that have stored crude oil for hundreds of millions of years. With Shopify’s purchase, Charm will be able to bring this new method another 10% down the cost curve, accelerating development of a cost-effective and scalable negative emissions solution. 
  • Running Tide: Their pilot project will grow mass amounts of sea kelp, then sink it to sequester its carbon deep in the North Atlantic ocean. Shopify’s investment intends to enable Running Tide to recover and monitor their research data to assess the success of their innovative approach. 
  • Puro.earth: An industry-leading marketplace that has created an international standard for carbon removals, Puro.earth brings together suppliers of carbon net-negative technologies and buyers who purchase their verified carbon removal credits. Shopify is purchasing carbon removals from three biochar providers: Carbofex, ECHO2, and Ecoera. With Shopify’s purchase, these biochar producers are able to remove bottlenecks in their production and scale more quickly.

Evergreen Portfolio

  • Indigo Ag: Built the first updated, coast-to-coast US map for regenerative farming practices, powered by satellite technology and ground and historical agronomic data. Their carbon program, which pays farmers for sequestering carbon through the soil and reducing emissions on their farm, is transitioning agriculture from a leading contributor to climate change to a significant and meaningful part of the solution. Shopify hopes its purchase will help farmers drive awareness and increase demand for carbon storage through regenerative agriculture.
  • Nori: Their marketplace helps farmers who have adopted regenerative agriculture practices sell carbon removal based on the carbon stored in their soil from these efforts. Shopify’s purchase intends to support Nori as it develops a new model for verifying, registering, and monitoring carbon removals, scaling beyond soil and into other types of carbon removal.
  • Soil Value Exchange: Matches ranchers and farmers who practice soil carbon storage with companies looking to capture and store their emissions. Shopify is the first to purchase soil carbon storage from Soil Value Exchange. The goal is to demonstrate value and demand for grassland soil carbon storage, and support the ranchers who choose to adopt regenerative grazing practices that draw down carbon from the atmosphere.
  • Pachama: Verifies forest carbon projects using machine learning and remote monitoring to provide a new standard of assurance in carbon markets. Pachama’s online platform allows individuals and companies to compensate for emissions by purchasing carbon credits from verified forest projects. Shopify is purchasing verified forest carbon credits from reforestation and conservation projects to offset delivery emissions from purchases made on Shop, our shopping assistant app, and with Offset, an app for merchants.

*As of August 31, 2020

Illustration Artist: Borja Bonaque

Company news