I can honestly say that no company the size of Stripe has even come close to being this "cool" (in a good way, not in a superficial sense) on so many things: company culture, remote-ok, perks, and now environment. At least from my point of view.
Kudos. Lots of kudos. Keep the good work, guys.
As a side note: I personally think that the way we look at environment and impact is plainly wrong. E.g. it is much more effective to plant trees (called "afforestation") rather than sequester CO2. Here's some old but decent sources , . Can't find a proper source, but afforestation, when done together with habitat restoration, can be even cheaper than these numbers, when done in certain areas of Africa, South America and Central Asia.
If Stripe wants to go the proverbial extra mile, it should consider "educating" people on the subject AND take consequent action, as opposed to "just" taking action following conventional wisdom.
: https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_gtr888.pdf (afforestation "price" starting at ~$50/ton)
No one is saying don't plant trees. Fuck yeah, plant all the trees! But that won't wont be enough. Sequestration will get better, but one of the big things it helps with is locality. CO2 isn't homogenously spread across the globe. It also doesn't spread very well. Concentrations vary drastically over the year and so do plants' ability to capture carbon. Carbon can build up in certain regions. Worse, it can pool where we can't grow trees . Places where we can't get enough water to introduce new populations of trees (without significant carbon costs, defeating the purpose. Also the local ecosystem) Cities. The Arctic. The ocean. I'm all for planting trees (even beyond CO2, I just feel better around trees) but people need to stop making the trees vs sequestration argument. It's trees + sequestration (air and ocean) + promoting corral development + more. (This same argument applies to a lot of things, especially in climate. It's not a "this vs that" argument, it's "this PLUS that".
(Or, in some interesting experiments, even before emission; there's work on splitting methane from natural gas into carbon and hydrogen and just burning the hydrogen. Gets you something like 66% of the energy of burning the methane completely, and with no CO2 emissions.)
It's just that most of the time, resulting CO2 is just released instead of being stored. But that is changing, fast.
The percentage of carbon captured is also damn near 100% - quite a bit better than gaseous carbon capture techniques I've heard of.
You do leave quite a lot of energy on the table (losing somewhere between 30% and 50%), so this is a technology that is only economically viable with high emissions pricing. But that seems like the way Europe is going anyway.
And yes, SMR is the proven and clearly superior technology right now; I'd call this TRL 4/5 right now. But with another decade of development?
Global graphite production from mining is at 1 megatonne/year, while synthetic is a few hundred kilotonnes/year. We need CCS to operate at tens of gigatonnes per year, that's four orders of magnitude beyond all the graphite the world needs.
This is the problem with anything CCU - there just aren't viable options with consumption at the gigatonne scale.
I can offset my footprint for 800$/year and I think it's going to be my New Years resolution. No more carbon from me.
Finding land and planning trees for it should be a global business. There are a lot of people like me with disposable income that would invest in something like that.
Remember that planting trees only work if you have the guarantee that in the future these trees will not be burned. Also, some natural decomposition also emits CO2
Planting trees can delay/slow down climate change. What happens in a decade when planting trees does not scale anymore and we've kept increasing our emissions in the same time?
There are a lot of technology promises on the horizon that will hopefully solve the next inflection point, but that's not my climate crisis, it will be the next generation. Hopefully by then the human race will have developed fusion or other energy technologies.
We need profitable enterprises focused on this large global problem! I think the tides are starting to shift and would love to see the smartest minds of our generation focused on this issue!
My personal emissions going forward are likely to be way lower than previous years simply due to awareness.
For example, cheap flights used frequently are a ridiculous luxury we cannot afford. I know lots of people that use budget airlines more than once per month to make weekend trips across Europe.
The amount of CO2 they are putting into the atmosphere is simply insane. A bit more than doing the same trip by car, for each passenger.
It just happens to be politically impossible.
Edit, of course, politically yes it's hard.
Planet Money had an episode about "revenue-neutral carbon tax", where all the money collected is returned back to the tax payers, to spend however they want.
The point of this tax is not to raise money, but to change behavior. This, a family that drives to work and school every day will pay more carbon tax, but this will be offset by the tax refund (or lower income tax). And a family that finds ways to reduce their carbon footprint will benefit from the tax refund and able to spend it on other things.
WA state had a carbon tax initiative but the revenues went to environmental efforts, and it failed. I think if it were made revenue-neutral, or heck, even made as an overall tax-cut to please the fiscal conservatives, I think it would pass (although it would face pushback from environmentally minded about not doing enough).
I like it a lot, but the problem is the major industries that will be heavily impacted/closed down as a result. They have immense political power, and I don't see any way around that. Hope I'm wrong.
And that's of course just one country out of 200. There is no local solution to global warming!
You have to keep in mind that even if it’s revenue neutral, explaining the scheme to taxpayers is going to be difficult, and your opponents are going to try their darndest to make it sound unappealing, even if it means spreading misinformation.
A carbon tax is my top priority. There’s no sense denying the opposition though. The yellow vest protests in france were from a fuel tax.
Honestly, this is a problem with a lot of technologies. Especially in the green sector. That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep funding research into it and trying to make it cheaper, but also a reason to be cautious.
And that's just direct emissions; the emissions of other countries can often be attributed to supplying to the US.
Netflix made had $5.8B in revenue from small $10-20 subscription users!
Today, for $20 a month you can offset your own carbon footprint! This matters because the more resources that goes into fighting climate change allows innovation. Even by generating more demand for carbon credits and offsetting, new businesses can thrive and grow by fighting climate change!
I've been super obsessed with https://projectwren.com (YC S19) for these exact reason!
Sorry to be paranoid, but most startups (uber, airbnb, paypal, not to mention facebook ...) are evil and exploitative.
Finally, we just started two months ago and have not sold user information to ad companies nor do we ever plan to. That sounds like an evil and unnecessary way to go about not accomplishing our mission.
Short summary: There is no free lunch. Almost everything is expensive, natural systems (afforestation and land use change) are cheaper but more variable. The cheapest negative emission technology is not to emit in the first place.
What I don't know is where I can find out which trees are particularly suited for carbon capture. From what I've read, fast growing trees will capture carbon quickly, but only if you harvest them, prevent rotting of the wood, and replanting a new crop.
Slow growth trees will store more carbon, but it takes a longer time for it to accomplish it.
I suppose it's like one of those "Good, Fast, Cheap - Pick two" situations. Is it better to capture a lot of carbon quickly to help the planet ASAP, or to kick-off the planting of trees that will capture carbon for the next 300 years?
Even when that's decided, how do I pick which trees aren't just suited for my area (relatively easily with native tree guides), but also well-suited for carbon capture and survival in an increasingly chaotic climate and ecosystem?
Forests used to be real carbon sinks meaning that trees would just die without decomposing, because life hasn't figured out yet how to decompose it. This is how coal was formed around the globe.
Maybe some better technology to sequester CO2 emerges. But planting trees is a good approach for the start. If we want to slow down climate change, the CO2 sequestration industry will have to become huge within the next decades.
Even if the trees die or are cut down, as long as new ones are allowed to grow, that area will absorb roughly constant amount of CO2.
Now, if we can harvest some trees regularly, and use them to replace plastics or fossil fuels, then that's a win for the environment even if those harvested trees end up releasing their CO2 back to the atmosphere, because we didn't introduce any _more_ CO2, we just recycled what we already have.
If you think it will be over, or at least completely unrecognizable, in 50 years your - in itself valid - concern doesn't matter.
If I imagine people 50 or 100 years ago trying to plan to solve our problems in 2019, knowing what they did then, I don't think they could have accomplished much of anything of substance, even with the best intentions and the commitment of huge resources.
* “almost certainly more” than 84% of stripe’s emissions will not be sequestered because it’s “financially infeasible”
* no mention of stripe’s actual carbon footprint
* talk of startups and trillion dollar industry “by the end of the century” but no mention of government intervention / green new deal to turn the tide in the next decade before it’s too late
Verdict: free market ideologues are not ever going to be leaders on climate. We need massive mobilization at the federal level to hit the necessary emissions reductions within the next 12 years if we are to avoid a catastrophic rise in temperature.
>As part of Stripe’s environmental program, we fully offset our greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing verified carbon offsets.
The sequestration is in addition to those offsets. They’re trying to advance sequestration technology by boosting demand. They’ll be offsetting and sequestering more than 100% of their emissions. The excess cost referred to sequestration, not offsets.
Government has done basically nothing for 30 years. I really, really want governments to take it seriously, tax carbon, etc. but I welcome private companies stepping in to try things too.
"Private companies trying things" is fine but as we can see from the reactions to this press release that the standard for private companies trying things is incredibly low and nowhere near what's required to hit the IPCC targets.
We agree on one thing though: government has not done nearly enough historically. Of course much worse could be said for industry, the primary source of CO2 emission (along with the military) and fundamentally incentivized to exploit externalized costs and pollute our planet.
That doesn’t really make sense IMHO, global warming isn’t a US problem, it’s a worldwide issue. Let’s say the US becomes a benevolent dictatorship with the mission to reduce CO2 emissions by any mean necessary (and is somehow successful), you still have the global problem. And then what, do you go to war against other countries?
This “but we can’t fix it all alone, it’s a global issue” thinking mode has to go. All contributions are important in reducing the speed of warming, whether your neighbour participates or not.
Interestingly, the longer you wait, the more you can expect people with more extreme agendas to pop up around the globe because they will see the point in coercion to save the world. Early investment at a massive scale is worth it.
Ok, why? It is a global issue, that’s not something we can ignore. You can change your way of thinking if you want, but I don’t see why you would ignore that point. I find it disingenuous to say “if the US government doesn’t do X in 12 years then we are doomed”, because it’s not true. Of course I’m not saying that nothing should be done, and I never said it cannot be fixed (or dealt with), that’s just you putting words in my mouth. But the US government has a terrible history at dealing with other countries, and creating a giant mess all around. Just imagine Trump deciding to focus on climate issues, I cannot see how that wouldn’t result in a complete disaster with international conflicts.
I think that we should keep the framing on the global aspect, and think about it as a common goal.
I don’t disagree with the rest of your comment, I completely support any effort at a local level.
> Carbon-based import tariffs, sanctions, and having a very strong, innovative US clean tech to export/sell its tech to other countries who need but dont have the R&D budget.
Sure, that’s all fine. That’s really not what I would expect from a country that systematically refused to collaborate on climate issues with others, but that would be great.
Join 320+ of us on Slack!
Apply here to join: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/12L8drO9a6OZf3-I9578PieBI0fw...
There's also a public meetup group in the Bay Area: https://meetup.com/CarbonRemoval/
this is you: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ABg0c_E7OOI
looking forward to your application once you finish your training.
Do you have any recommendations?
It's true. The same revolution that connected software and biotech is coming to the climate. There's tons of super duper obvious stuff that has yet to be built.
You would probably guess there's a great website for tracking carbon levels in the air. Like that's super basic right?
Well There's not...or at least there wasn't.
This was/is the gold standard: https://www.co2.earth/
Then last year a volunteer team (including me) built
it's open source on Github, you could work on that! It's a bit rough around the edges still. Could use a twitter bot!
You could also check out our index at:
The software is pretty simple right now but we could improve it a lot!
Software related to climate change got stuck in the 90's...and you can break it out! Build cool shit!
Email me with any questions, see profile.
Sorry I would like to type an elaborate response, but I'm on phone for the day.
Today, the technology options are not good. but good options are within sight. As a technologist, let's go make better tech.
Climate change is a technology problem and a marketing problem.
YC's carbon site does a great job marketing for these crucial technologies:
Storage only becomes a problem when a quite significant chunk of the generation is intermittent. But even then, today's batteries are good enough for overnight storage, and for longer term storage we can use power-to-gas processes.
I've been reading a little more about mob-stalked, heavily mobile grazing techniques (rotating cows/buffalo/ruminants daily) which increases the grass productivity per acre, thus capuring more carbon in the grass --> soil. If anyone knows of any resources/studies comparing the carbon sequestration of grasslands, which have incredible biomass cycles over several decades, vs managed forests which do not see the same level of biomass turnover, I would love to see them.
Basically I want to know how much it costs to feel ok about my flights to go skiing.
It costs me $40 a month to offset my own carbon footprint, but I take a lot more flights than the average person.
That's pretty expensive. But at $100 it starts to look a lot more favourable when compared with a personal footprint - 30 tons emitted would be $3K, perfectly achievable for someone who's talking about flying to go skiing.
The mean emissions of those willing to spend 600 EUR/year to offset their travel are going to be at least an order of magnitude higher. You're better off feeling guilty and reducing your travel by 10% (in terms of personal emissions).
I do admit it's tricky, because if everybody is scared off by the true price tag (my lifetime emissions as an Australian would easily be $500k), the technology will never get a chance to get economy of scale and lower prices. That's really what you're paying for when you sign up for the plan.
At $1000 per ton this isn't feasible. At $100 I'd think about it. At $10 it's not a question that I'd buy it.
At $1000 per ton I'd change my air spending habits. At $100 per ton built into the price per flight I would probably take the same trips.
tl;dr: get this price down an order of magnitude and I'm in.
Isn't it better that you/we change your/our air spending habits? I don't believe that we can offset our carbon footprint fast enough with carbon sinks while still maintaing the same levels of carbon emission.
Reality of course is that if there is significant upfront economic costs then very few people are going to buy into the scheme, I think innovation is our best bet and if $100 per ton is a price point where people are in then that's probablly the best pragmatic choice.
However, needless transport seems a great target for emission reduction, we still need to get around, but "commuting" while emitting carbon would seem the easiest way to reduce carbon emissions, we have all the tech we need for that (public transport/remote work/online shopping/ride sharing/EVS/reduced work weeks) just no incentive to change.
What travel reduction we would have would, at that point, pay for the appropriate sequestration.
Honestly, it sounds like we should just require everyone to buy 100% sequestration for their carbon production (priced into the goods and services). Add a phase in over, say 10 years to.
Some items do already expose this information, but it's pretty much all stuff for the eco market.
Though I remember Walkers' crisps doing this ten years back. 80g for a packet of crisps. Or about 3kg CO2 per 1kg crisps. Doesn't include final transportation though.
I agree that the correct solution is to just whack a carbon tax on flights.
It's ideal if people voluntarily reduce - I've committed myself to not flying except in case of family emergency - but ultimately that's not going to solve the problem because it's a tragedy of the commons.
That sounds tolerable to me as a price of saving the planet. Certainly it's not an economy-busting impossibility given that it's in the range that can be reasonably borne by normal middle class individuals.
I think it's incorrect to categorise limiting flying as 'economy busting' in any sense to be frank - what percentage of flights are things like people visiting relatives?
It might be a bit of a shame, but economy busting is surely hyperbolic, it's primarily a leisure activity.
It would be nowhere near that amount. I used a flight estimator which says a return flight from London to Malaga would emit 0.3 tonnes of CO2.
Project Wren charges $10 - $20 per tonne, so it would cost the same as the ticket at most, even including the cut Ryanair inevitably would take. If you take a more normal ticket price, it would be an insignificant extra.
I'd like to think that at $100/ton, or probably before that, we just price it in to flights.
However, I am not 100% convinced morally of CCS solutions. The main counter argument being that CCS technology enables the status quo of fossil fuel burning to continue.
On the other hand, there are some heavy industries (steel production?) that do not have any alternatives to coal burning in order to operate and CCS can offset the carbon footprint in these industries. I would however not call this "negative emissions" but rather "emission-free" or similar.
What is your opinion on CCS? Can people convince me in either direction?
(Carbon isn't the only emission from burning coal -- it contains sulfur and thorium too. But these can also be mitigated with some expense. And if you're converting CO2 directly to fuel, there's no increase in pollution at all.)
If you can remove the carbon again, then it is still a "sin" unless you pay to have your share removed. If it can then be converted to fuel again that is an added bonus.
Of course, this whole process needs to occur at a massive scale because we are releasing so much carbon dioxide and want to remove more than we are currently emitting.
(P.s. I don't like the word "sin" in this context because of the theological connotation it implies, but I hope the message is clear)
are you aware of fracking and tar sands and their environmental impacts? you cannot possibly trivialize those as "digging holes in the ground".
So... let's put off saving the planet because someone has moral qualms? No. This is a legitimate emergency. If we have something that has a net positive impact, we need to do it and stop arguing about it on the internet. Nothing is without tradeoffs, and some are simply going to have to be made. There are no easy solutions. We have seven billion people to feed while we manage to undo all the damage too, remember.
I'm not saying capture solutions are the best choice, mind you. I'm saying that decision needs to be made with numbers and not "morals".
We can't plant enough trees. Nor can we always plant them in the most needed places (North, where carbon accumulates). We can't build even public transport (which is still positive emissions). We can't get everyone to go vegan (which still is positive emissions. Even lab meat won't make negative emissions). We can't stop air travel and shipping without significantly affecting people's lives (including their ability to live, as drugs, equipment, and experts aren't all created locally). We can't get everyone to leave their homes and concentrate into cities.
Even if we could do all that, we'd still be positive. Worse, how do we get every country in the world to do the same? It seems infeasible to me. And it doesn't address the problems like that carbon builds up in certain areas that we just can't even plant trees.
But here's the thing. The argument isn't "planting trees vs CC", it is "trees + CC". Actually it's more! It's about using every available method we have at our disposal. There is nothing wrong with burning carbon actually. The issue is burning so much that we are destroying the plant. Destroying the planet is the issue. If we have negative emissions total (and aren't creating carbon hot zones) then who cares how much we emit? As long as it's captured and doesn't damage the planet.
Leaving CC off the table is like telling a bunch of starving children that they can't have hamburgers because some of them might eat too many and get fat. The concern is completely missing the point of the problem.
My instinct is it could be an extremely important technology for fighting climate change. And while it develops it's important to continue to insist that it doesn't excuse the emissions it might offset.
First, a lot of R&D must be done (for all types of solutions) and the money to fund this can only be spent once. So we need to pre-select some promising ideas (could still be many ideas, but not all ideas).
Second, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. While I am pretty neutral / undecided on nuclear power, some argue that the (potential) problems it brings along are not worth the risk, even if it is a carbon neutral method of power production.
Third, CCS technology disincentiveses investment and R&D into fully renewable energy production (the point made before)
(I would like to emphasize here that I am not arguing about the extent or existence of a climate crisis. I am aware of the literature and agree that immediate action is required to limit carbon emissions)
Eh, renewable energy is getting quite cheap. If you add the costs of CCS into fossil fuel, I think you'll still have plenty of incentives to invest on renewables, and to use fossil as a last resort only.
That's like saying you can reduce car miles driven by buying a car and not driving it. Another one will just be made.
Can we legislate a cap on the production of anything?
If you want a simple solution, buy a farm and bury the output. Simpler than storing a bunch of oil, even. But not very effective relative to land use.
You can plant trees and build things with them above ground.
The house I'm sitting in right now is a literal carbon storage unit.
Just don't burn it.