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Published on May 29, 2020

Stripe’s negative emissions purchases and the Carbon Transformation

We congratulate Stripe for their first negative emissions purchases! In August 2019 they announced a commitment to spend 1M a year to fund carbon removal projects and now they’ve done it. Stripe worked hard for their 6500 tons of carbon removal. For 3 quarters, their evaluation team has driven full speed a tender process that attracted 24 entrepreneurial projects from around the world. With 8 external experts they did a job of harmonizing project data so that very different removal methods can be compared and studied for future potential. It was extraordinarily efficient.

At Puro.earth we are very familiar with this process. Since May 2019, our mission has been to mobilize a Carbon Transformation, where entrepreneurs with carbon removal operations connect with climate conscious companies who want to purchase negative emissions to fulfill their net zero ambitions.

But carbon removals are hard to find and most companies do not have heavy resources in-house for the detective work. So we at Puro.earth help them by verifying carbon removal projects, harmonizing the data and categorizing projects per removal type. The negative emissions are issued CO2 Removal Certificates, or CORCs, per each ton of CO2 removed. So far, companies have neutralized almost 7000 tons of carbon emissions and we are on our way to expand our supply by adding new carbon removal methods and projects.

Carbon Transformers

The projects Stripe chose form part of a very nascent and underfunded carbon removal industry that needs investment to grow, and are representative of carbon storage outside of the biosphere, in other words outside of plants and soil. The carbon removal methods Stripe selected are: direct air capture into geological storage (Climeworks), mineral weathering by wave power (Project Vesta), using CO2 to reduce cement in concrete (CarbonCure) and injecting pyrolysis oil from biomass into geological storage (Charm Industries).

At Puro.Earth we act in a similar line, as we know that natural solutions will not be enough. So we identify projects with great potential to scale and remove vast amounts of CO2 and we go even further. We analyze the value chains of carbon removal processes and choose the earliest point-of-no-return in the value chain, where the CO2 is converted to stable storage and the most economically viable option is to keep the CO2 away from circulation for the long-term. Then we make sure the carbon removal has a net-negative lifecycle, in other words, it stores more CO2 than it has emitted in its production. Once the project is verified by external experts it becomes available to sell its removals.

We call the entrepreneurs that make this possible Carbon Transformers. Their methods capture carbon, stabilize it and transform it to a usable form, in a long term storage.

For example, negative emissions from sister projects to Charm Industries are available today at Puro.earth. Charm will take pyrolysis oil and bury it underground. While Carbofex, a verified Puro.earth project, produces the solid pyrolysis output called biochar. It removes carbon from the atmosphere for thousands of years and has many commercial uses as a soil fertilizer and water filter, while keeping the carbon in a stable form.

Stripe envisions that in the future, CarbonCure’s technology could use CO2 from direct air capture once it becomes more economical, forming a full negative emissions technology. We support that vision, and luckily we already offer removal certificates from full negative emissions technologies with biochar and wooden building elements, as these are coupled to sustainable biomass production.

Imagine a whole community of thinkers and doers creating complete negative emissions technologies and industrial loops. For example, meet Carbon Transformer Hirsitalo, the Finnish Log House Industry Association. Certified as grown sustainably, their wood is turned to building elements that will keep carbon sequestered for 50 years, guaranteed. Currently wood is used marginally for building offices and homes, but it has the potential to scale to 1,1 Gt CO2 removal per year — once Carbon Transformation kicks in.

Other verified projects are available and we have a pipeline of 96 negative emission project candidates in different carbon removal methods. In the current projects carbon is removed and stored outside of the biosphere for 50 years in wooden building elements and for more than 1000 years in biochar and in carbonated building elements. Plus, further aligning ourselves with Stripe’s thinking, we are developing verification methodologies for BECCS, (BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage), DACS (Direct Air Capture with Storage), and also SOC (Soil Organic Carbon). We welcome projects that were not selected by Stripe to apply to our marketplace.

Stripe’s criteria puts science-based and independent verifiability at the center and we fully agree. Our experience is that verification works two ways: it assures the buyer that the volume and permanence of the carbon removal is as promised, and for the project, it gives professional input on how to further improve their process, make it technology mature and even more carbon-negative. Industrial maturity in action.

The hybrid business model for carbon removal

Why not store carbon and spur an economic transformation at the same time? We believe that not only can we remove carbon and store it for the long-term but we can create useful products and green jobs. The carbon removal industry must grow by 2050 to be as big as the oil and gas industry is today. So we must create a business model that can compete, a radical climate solution that can scale to industrial levels. This is what we call the Carbon Transformation, a new way of thinking where CO2 capturing products would transform the construction, agriculture and energy industries, among others. If we could substitute processes and materials that emit CO2 with ones that capture it, a solution would be hidden in the problem.

Stripe will pay the projects a weighted average price of $152 per ton of CO2 removed, with very high prices of $600 per ton and $775 per ton for the less mature technologies of Charm Industries and Climeworks, respectively.

Paying such high prices gives a jumpstart to the industry of carbon removal, but not everyone can be a forerunner in these very expensive future technologies. The Carbon Transformation approach takes already mature technologies that are far from reaching their full commercial potential and gives them a boost.

Some of our projects, have already experienced the acceleration a financial boost can give. When we started Puro.earth , the idea was to create a market. Both buyers and suppliers would receive value while, most importantly, having a climate impact. In the past year, the extra income has helped to gradually build up the volume, lower the cost and make their process even more carbon-negative.

For example, Ekovilla, a Carbon Transformer that creates housing insulation from recycled biomass, has been able to develop their process and improve its carbon negativity and Carbofex, which I already mentioned, is developing new biochar based commercial products such as phosphorous filtering for water ecosystems.

A green recovery

Everything changed in just a few weeks. As the world presses play again the climate crisis must be a priority. What have we really learnt? Will we go back to grow the same industries, to make the same decisions and choices? Or will we finally create new business models and industrial structures that transform the global economy to a regenerative one — making the planet more resilient?

We will take on Stripe’s baton and help climate conscious companies lead a green recovery with our Carbon Transformation approach. Because the world needs an urgent reset, an exponential change for both the climate and the economy.

If your company wants to boost removing carbon from the atmosphere, welcome to join the Carbon Transformers and purchase verified negative emissions at Puro.earth.

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