Last week, the world celebrated Earth Day.
This is everyone’s chance to swear allegiance to Mother Gaia and make clean green energy the wave of the future.
Social media is flooded with Earth Day posts from ordinary people and celebrities.
Globally, big business has pledged to provide funding and resources for a greener future. According to Invesco strategist Brandon Knott, 90% of the world’s gross domestic product is moving towards a “net-zero carbon commitment.”
Unfortunately, words don’t always match actions, and if you ask executives, most will tell you their companies aren’t doing enough, according to a new survey.
A recent Harris poll on Google Cloud surveyed 1,491 executives in 16 countries and found that while 96% of executives have at least one plan in place in the name of a green future, 58% of executives Said their organization was guilty of “greenwashing”.
Greenwashing is the practice of marketing a company or organization to make them appear greener.
According to the survey, 65% of respondents want to “advance sustainability efforts, but don’t know how to actually do it”. Only 36% said their organization even has a tool to measure their efforts.
Only 17% use these measurements to optimize their performance based on the results.
The more you dig into this survey, which was conducted between December 21, 2021 and January 8, 2022, the bleaker the vision of a greener future driven by big business.
Shopify pushes past carbon neutrality
Shopify (SHOP) – Get Shopify, Inc. Class A Reports is one of those companies that promises to fight for a cleaner company, and they have multiple ways to do the job.
The commercial company, which began collecting data in 2019, launched a carbon accounting program that will lead it on the path to becoming carbon neutral.
“Now that we know we emit a lot to run our business, we want to support projects that will offset our emissions,” said Stacy Kauk, Shopify’s head of sustainability.
What is carbon offset?
Carbon dioxide released into the air can be offset by taking the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere through a variety of methods, including: forestry and conservation, renewable energy, and conversion of landfill gas and human and agricultural waste.
Companies that want to offset carbon emissions can buy carbon credits or permits that allow the owner to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.
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Individuals can also purchase carbon offsets. Some airlines allow passengers to pay extra to compensate for the plane’s emissions. This is a form of carbon offsetting.
But even this system is flawed.
“In a voluntary market, there are no rules and regulations about what we need to do to measure and reduce our carbon footprint,” Corker said. “There’s guidance out there, but virtually every company can do what they want.
When Shopify started looking for ways to offset its carbon footprint, they entered a market that wasn’t ready to provide the necessary services.
They found that most carbon offsets are “avoidance offsets,” where one company pays another to not cause as much pollution as the buyer.
“We realized in 2019 that there weren’t a lot of carbon credits (captured carbon dioxide) out there. We realized there really wasn’t a market for carbon removal, and there was no demand signal,” Corker said. “We realized that if we wanted to support real carbon removal projects, then we need to speak up. We need to send a demand signal and create a market for carbon removal.”
“That’s the origin of our fund.”
Shopify was able to achieve its net carbon neutrality goal in a short period of time. Now, the company wants to pass on its slogan to sellers who use the platform to ship goods globally.
“What we want to do is take all these lessons and insights and bring these superpowers to our merchants. What we want to do is help those businesses powered by Shopify address their climate impact.”
Shopify’s Diversified Approach to Sustainability
Shopify created its Sustainability Fund in September 2020.
The goal is to inject $5 million annually into projects that remove atmospheric carbon.
But the company has agreed to give $13.5 million to nine different projects in its latest round of carbon removal procurement.
Since 2019, Shopify has spent $32 million on carbon removal projects.
The 22 companies backed by the fund are working toward Shopify’s goal of finding “innovative ways to move green energy forward.”
The Shopify Sustainability Fund has two portfolios. One is the frontier portfolio. It invests in technologies to permanently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the emissions.
The other is the Evergreen portfolio, where companies also remove carbon from the atmosphere, but they don’t have the storage capacity of other carbon capture technologies.
About 200 companies entered Shopify’s final round, and nearly half of the 25 leading applicants were formed in the past three years.
One of the more innovative companies the Sustainability Fund is working with is DroneSeed. The company uses drones to drop seeds into areas affected by wildfires for reforestation.
DroneSeed then sells carbon offsets based on their reforestation efforts.
In this case, Shopify is the buyer.
In March, the company purchased carbon offsets from DroneSeed to remove 50,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere.
“They’re using drones and technology to scale up reforestation to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change,” Coker said.