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Direct air carbon capture firm sells first major contract to Shopify

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Shopify has become the first customer to buy contract carbon removal units from Canada-based direct air capture company Carbon Engineering.

The e-commerce firm claims it has now purchased more Direct Air Capture (DAC) carbon removal than any other company and is urging other firms to follow suit.

Shopify agreed to purchase 10,000 tonnes of removal from Carbon Engineering, adding to a previous 5,000-tonne commitment to Climeworks.

DAC is a technology that directly pulls in atmospheric air and extracts carbon dioxide (CO2) using simple chemical reactions.

Carbon Engineering’s US-based partner 1PointFive are currently jointly engineering their first industrial-scale facility, which is expected to be operational in 2024.

It should be able to capture up to one million tonnes of CO2 each year and Shopify has agreed to purchase 10,000 tonnes of permanent carbon dioxide removal through this service.

Shopify said it made the move to send “a clear market signal” that buyers are looking for permanent carbon removal and that large-scale DAC technology is a key solution to solving climate change.

It has been touted by the fossil fuel and aviation sectors as a way to decarbonise without majorly disrupting their operations in the short term.

“Large-scale DAC-based carbon removal is essential to undo 200 years of burning fossil fuels,” said Stacy Kauk, director of Shopify’s Sustainability Fund.

“We need others to join us with purchase commitments so we can kickstart the market, scale this technology globally and start reversing climate change.”

Steve Oldham, CEO of Carbon Engineering, said: “Climate scientists tell us that removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is no longer an option - it’s an urgent necessity.

“More and more leading organisations like Shopify are taking bold action and including permanent carbon removal in their sustainability toolkits. What had been missing was a way to purchase carbon removal at large scale.

“Our new service provides that mechanism and makes it easy for organisations and governments to include large-scale carbon removal in their net zero plans.”

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believes carbon removal will be needed to remove up to 1 trillion tons of CO2 by the end of the century to limit the rise in global warming to no more than 1.5°C, the goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Companies such as Microsoft, Chevron, Occidental and billionaires Elon Musk and Bill Gates have invested in the technology, but it is expensive and experts say it needs government support to become commercially viable.

In January this year, researchers called on governments to fund fleets of DAC systems as an essential tool to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

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