Shopify, Stripe join forces with Alphabet, Meta and McKinsey on carbon removal venture

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Two big names in ecommerceShopify and Stripe — along with Google parent Alphabet, Facebook parent Meta and consulting firm McKinsey have joined forces to make a $925 million environmental commitment.

The companies have pledged to commit those funds to buy captured carbon between now and 2030.

The effect will collectively be known as Frontier and will focus on the removal of carbon dioxide from the air, which is distinct from other efforts such as purchasing carbon credits.

Technology already exists that lets the gas be filtered from the air but only a small number of facilities exist to perform the operation.

Frontier hopes to take advantage of creating more demand for such facilities to encourage new construction, research and drive down costs.

Carbon offset credits have often been seen as, at least in the eyes of the average consumer, as a way for companies to proclaim they are “carbon neutral,” but critics say those programs just don’t erase carbon emissions the way that supporters like to claim they do.

While big tech certainly doesn’t conjure images of factories belching emissions into the air, since most of these companies rely heavily on massive server farms, the carbon footprint from the electricity needs to power the computers plus keep the data centers cool enough to operate is significant. Efforts have been made to use alternative energy sources, such as solar panels on the roofs of such facilities, to make them more carbon friendly and generate some or most of the power they need to operate.

Meanwhile, ecommerce companies have the added carbon impact of what is generated to manufacturer and ship items around the world — in addition to the emissions generated from any data centers that handle the backend processing and payments of orders.

While the overall impact to process a single order via a credit card is typically tiny, the sheer number of them happening every day can add up quickly.