One of Canada’s biggest tech companies, Shopify, announced that they would be contributing 5 million to the environment every year, according to a letter from Shopify’s CEO Tobi Lütke that was published on their website on Sept 12th.
The letter is a glimpse into the mind of Lütke, it is well-written and informative but also very personal as it highlights how much Lütke really seems to care about the environment. He has said in the past that he envisions Shopify as a company that can live into the next century, and in his letter, he said he realized that “for this to be a desirable goal, we have to ensure that the next century is worth reaching.”
screenshot of Carbon Cycle animation
Lütke paints the whole picture as he briefs readers on the history of how we got to 400ppm in our current CO2 levels (it was at 280ppm before the industrial revolution, so that’s bad.) The modern solution for this is carbon offsets, which Lütke called misleading and don’t actually reduce the carbon in the air. “Offsets are better than nothing, but they’re not good enough,” he said.
The process of removing carbon from the air is called sequestration and is very expensive to do. This process breaks the carbon out of the air, which creates a usable material that can make bricks or other materials. As part of the Shopify Sustainability Fund, Shopify will buy 1 million dollars of sequestered carbon annually. Right now this process is expensive and fairly unknown, and by investing and intentionally overpaying, Lütke hopes to kickstart the demand and reduce the overall price.
Carbon-neutral operations is also a focus in the Shopify Sustainability Fun. It states that Shopify has purchased enough renewable energy to neutralize the carbon footprint created by the Canadian parts of the company. They plan to power all global operations and travel-related emissions with 100% renewable energy by 2020. The Google Cloud data centers that power Shopify are all run by renewable energy, which they achieve by purchasing enough renewable energy to match the consumption for all operations globally.
Sustainable offices at Shopify are achieved by choosing areas that have high walkability and transit scores, and by building with local materials whenever possible.