The online payment software program Stripe is committed to removing carbon dioxide from the air. In 2019, the Palo Alto, California-based company announced the Stripe Climate Program, through which it would invest one million dollars each year to help fund start-ups focused on carbon removal solutions. This year, Stripe is going above and beyond that original amount by investing $2.75 million in six early-stage carbon removal projects. The company’s investments in Heirloom, Running Tide, Seachange, Mission Zero, CarbonBuilt, and The Future Forest Company are designed to build a bigger global market for carbon solutions.
Stripe is a payment-processing software that allows companies to collect credit card and bank account payments on the internet and pass the monies along. Massive companies such as Kickstarter and Instacart use the service. With a value of nearly $36 billion, Stripe is one of the most valuable non-public start-ups in the United States and continues to grow daily.
“I am deeply skeptical of almost all corporate climate action,” said Jane Zelikova, a Stripe scientific advisor and a chief scientist at the carbon-removal think tank Carbon 180, “[but] I think what Stripe [is doing] is really different. They’re not greenwashing. They’re literally paying whatever the price is to remove carbon from the atmosphere.”
Stripe hopes its investment in the carbon-removal start-ups will help each of these companies scale the important work each is doing. But it’s not just about the process. Stripe hired 13 scientific advisors to help choose which companies were most deserving of the funds. The idea is rooted in finding not only the most scientifically sound start-ups, but also, those that are committed to engaging in a conversation with the world and who are willing to be advocates for environmental justice worldwide. Each recipient start-up is working on a unique way to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and keep it out of the atmosphere for centuries. Currently, there are no methods that do this effectively in a way that is ready to scale globally – but each has the potential to do so.
Each recipient of funding has unique plans and projects underway to tackle carbon removal. Heirloom will use Stripe’s investment to explore an accelerated way to directly capture carbon from the air using magnesium carbonate and then store it permanently underground. Mission Zero is working on a heat-less capture method that is promising for its very small physical footprint. Seachange has an experimental electrochemical process that stores carbon in seawater. CarbonBuilt makes limestone out of carbon, effectively locking it in a natural stone box. Two companies have a more low-tech approach. The Future Forest Company is grinding basalt rocks and spreading them on a Scottish forest floor with hopes it can speed up a forest’s natural carbon absorption process while Running Tide is growing kelp and sinking it to the ocean floor.
By supporting these early-stage companies, Stripe is setting a golden example of how revenue can be used in a positive way to solve the carbon-driven climate crisis.
Its customers can also buy carbon credits. In fact, the company has arguably the “most compelling corporate climate initiatives” in the world, leading the way for others to follow its path to make the world a healthier, more sustainable place.