Apr 29 • 43M

Volts podcast: Nan Ransohoff on how (and why) Stripe is kick-starting the carbon-removal market

Nearly a billion dollars available to anyone who can take tons out of circulation.

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David Roberts
Volts is a podcast about leaving fossil fuels behind. I've been reporting on and explaining clean-energy topics for almost 20 years, and I love talking to politicians, analysts, innovators, and activists about the latest progress in the world's most important fight. (Volts is entirely subscriber-supported. Sign up!)
Episode details

In 2019, the payments company Stripe announced that it would spend at least $1 million a year on verified, permanent carbon dioxide removal (CDR). The response was intense, not only from those working on CDR, but from customers, organizations, and companies that wanted to follow suit.

There’s a lot of money and good will floating around these days that isn’t quite sure how to have the biggest climate impact. Stripe had assembled a group of experts to scrutinize CDR technologies and companies. Why not just let Stripe invest the money?

Fast-forward a few years: Stripe has now unveiled a nearly billion-dollar pot of CDR money ($925 million, to be exact). A new Stripe-owned company called Frontier will pool money from Stripe, partners like Alphabet, Meta, and Shopify, and thousands of Stripe customers who donate a small portion of their transaction costs and make it available to CDR contenders.

Frontier is offering what’s called an “advance market commitment,” a guarantee that if companies can figure out ways to verifiably and permanently draw down carbon, no matter the initial price, there will be buyers. This enables companies to get financing and start deploying projects.

Stripe’s head of carbon, Nan Ransohoff, told The Atlantic’s Rob Meyer that a billion is “roughly 30 times the carbon-removal market that existed in 2021. But it’s still 1,000 times short of the market we need by 2050.”

I thought I would get in touch with Ransohoff to ask her how far she thinks private companies can push CDR in the absence of policy, which technologies are showing promise, and whether Stripe is pushing governments to get involved.

Twitter avatar for @nanransohoff
Nan Ransohoff @nanransohoff
Twitter avatar for @stripe
Stripe @stripe
Introducing Frontier—a $925M advance market commitment (AMC) to accelerate carbon removal. https://t.co/DbXBC7AEVb It’s funded by Stripe, @Google, @Shopify, @Meta, @McKinsey, and the thousands of businesses using Stripe Climate. More details. ⬇️