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Climate change and our effort

Here's whats going on

"When we discovered fossil fuels in the ground, the path of human history changed forever. For the past 200 years, we’ve used that fuel to kickstart everything from the Industrial Revolution to modernity. Our planet has enjoyed a phase of unprecedented wealth and health because of these innovations. There has never been a better time to be alive, and the same should hold true tomorrow.

Unfortunately, our energy use has consequences. Every step of the way, we’ve been pumping carbon into the atmosphere and gradually changing our climate. 

Before the Industrial Revolution, our air contained 280 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) on average. But new markets born from this revolution used a lot of energy, causing atmospheric CO2 rates to rise dramatically. For the first time in recorded history, our CO2 levels are above 400 ppm. This is really bad.

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We’ve unwittingly created a reinforcing feedback loop that is causing a massive imbalance in our atmosphere. It’s leading to rising sea levels, increased drought and flooding, ocean acidification — externalities that put our survival at risk.

Many of us want to do something about this, and so we buy carbon offsets. This conjures up images of solar power and tree planting, but the reality can be quite different. Carbon offsets are often opaque and misleading. Some are created by putting filters on the smokestacks of especially dirty factories that shouldn’t be running in the first place. The biggest buyers of carbon offsets are often the largest polluters looking to be absolved of their guilt; a modern twist on medieval indulgences. 

Plus, carbon offsets don’t often reduce carbon in the air. At best, they slow emissions. At worst, they fund ineffective projects. Even if we could offset all future emissions, there’s still too much in the air right now. Offsets are better than nothing, but they’re not good enough. 

We’ve collectively procrastinated so long that the only way to solve this problem is to get carbon out of the air, not just prevent more from going in. That means we need to invest in direct-air carbon sequestration. This involves taking CO2 molecules from the air, breaking the carbon out of them, and turning them into a brick (or a valuable product!) that will never re-release its carbon into the atmosphere.

This is one of the best long-term approaches to climate change because it works independently from emissions and can mitigate the problem retroactively. However, sequestration is incredibly expensive right now. I could offset one tonne of carbon for $5 USD, but direct-air sequestering the same amount could cost upwards of $1,000. This means most people don’t do it, or don’t know about it, and so the demand for sequestration is vastly lower than other offsets."

- Tobi, CEO Shopify

Taos Rocker's Contribution

Taos Rockers has chosen the Shopify platform for many reasons, and one very important one is Shopif'y's role in climate change. Through Shopify, Taos Rockers is able to 

Shopify's Contribution

Shopify commits a minimum of $5M annually to fight for the environment with the Shopify Sustainability Fund

Commerce is a powerful vehicle for change. Using the market forces of supply and demand to further worthy causes is one of the most potent recipes for progress. We can apply this thinking to even the world’s greatest problems, like climate change. Individuals and businesses making conscious choices can change the world.

 

To start, the Shopify Sustainability fund includes: 

  • Buying $1M of sequestered carbon annually at any price: Shopify is committed to investing at least $1 million USD each year into carbon sequestration. Shopify's goal is to kickstart the demand and predictability of this market so industrial engineering can scale and the price can come down. 
  • Carbon-neutral operations: Shopify has bought enough renewable energy to neutralize their carbon footprint in Canada, and in 2020 they plan to power 100% of their global operations with renewable energy. Shopify will offset all travel-related emissions too.
  • Carbon-neutral platform: All of Shopify runs in data centers powered by renewable energy.
  • Sustainable offices: Shopify looks for LEED-certified office space, and most of our square footage is LEED Gold or Platinum. Shopify has chosen buildings in areas with high transit and walkability scores, and built with local materials wherever possible. This also includes minor but locally impactful things like adding bike racks and storage to every office.

Shopify allows their merchants and their buyers to take part in their efforts.

  • Sustainable shipping: Sustainability will remain a core principle of the Shopify Fulfillment Network, with a focus on sustainable packaging. 
  • Merchants can participate: Shopify plans to offer their merchants (yes Taos Rockers has taken part!) the ability to achieve carbon neutrality or negative carbon emissions on their shipments through a simple app they can install in their stores. 
  • Buyers can participate: People who are concerned about the impact of all the packages arriving at their door can download Shopify’s Arrive app. We plan to use our fund to automatically offset the carbon impact of all shipments tracked through the app.