Canadian multinational e-commerce company Shopify will permanently remove carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere using Climeworks’ direct air capture (DAC) solution.

Shopify is investing at least $5m annually to the most promising impactful technologies and projects fighting climate change through its Sustainability Fund.

Climeworks today (21st Oct) revealed that the Swiss company has been chosen as one these climate-positive projects and that Shopify will be purchasing permanent storage of atmospheric CO₂.

This is a win-win for Shopify and Climeworks as this purchase helps to scale and commercialise climate technology for massive impact on the long term.

Pioneering efforts, such as Shopify’s, increase the demand for CO₂ removal and help to make climate positivity more attainable for everyone by supporting the kickstart of a whole new industry.

“We are pleased to see that ever more people and organisations are joining our journey towards a climate-positive world,” said Christoph Gebald, co-CEO and co-founder of Climeworks.

“The more pioneering customers, the faster the scale-up: Shopify acts as a pioneer leading the way for further private organisations to take bold actions to address their climate impact by removing CO₂ from the air with Climeworks.”

“For the first year of Shopify’s Sustainability Fund, we chose to work with companies with innovative ideas that we believe have the highest potential to reverse climate change,” saod Stacy Kauk, Director of Shopify’s Sustainability Fund.

“The world needs ambitious entrepreneurs like those at Climeworks to continue pushing the carbon removal frontier, and chart the course for those who will follow in what is shaping up to be humanity’s most important industry yet.”

Climeworks made its CO₂ removal solution available to the public in 2019, allowing people and organisations to have CO₂ permanently removed from the air in their name.

Since then, many pioneers have joined Climeworks’ mission to reverse climate change, including Shopify.

How does Climeworks’ technology work?

Direct air capture (DAC) involves pulling CO₂ directly out of the air, then storing it safely and permanently. Think about it this way: wastewater plants clean and recycle our water, and it’s considered an essential service. We need a solution like that for cleaning our air. That’s where DAC comes in.

Right now, it’s really tricky to pull carbon from the air. Our atmosphere contains over 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon right now. That’s enough to drastically impact our climate, but it’s still only 0.04% of the air. Capturing it is like spilling a single drop of ink into a swimming pool and pulling it back out again.

Thankfully, technology that can do this exists. Climeworks removes CO₂ from the air with DAC machines. An Icelandic company called Carbfix mixes the captured CO₂ with water and pumps it deep underground. Through natural mineralisation, the CO₂ reacts with basalt rock (formed from cooled lava) and turns into stone within a few years, removing it from the air forever.

The biggest barrier preventing Climeworks from scaling right now is the amount it costs them to capture and store CO₂, which means high purchase prices for buyers. The more early customers Climeworks has, the faster they can scale up, reduce costs, and make their CO₂ removal widely available. By purposefully overpaying for Climeworks’ carbon removal today, Shopify’s goal is to help kickstart this market.