Online-payments company Stripe (which we proudly use in the Emeraldology Shop!) is blazing the trail for carbon capture technology. Talk about an unlikely — and refreshing — climate hero!

Each week we summarize three pieces of news that give us hope for a greener, brighter future. Follow Emeraldology on social media or sign up for our weekly newsletter to have Hopeful Headlines sent directly to your inbox!

The Weekly Planet: A Start-Up’s Unusual Plan to Suck Carbon Out of the Sky

By Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, November 24, 2020

  • Online-payments company Stripe is leading the charge in funding climate capture technology. The company is willing to spend up to $1 million to remove all of the carbon it has emitted since its founding in 2010. Stripe is knowingly paying high prices to four small companies to help them develop their carbon removal technology.
  • By promising to buy carbon removal regardless of cost, Stripe is helping small carbon capture companies to bring down their cost curve. Chief executive Peter Reinhardt of Charm Industrial — which turns carbon into a biomass oil and injects it deep underground — said “By the time we deliver on our contracts with Stripe and others, we’ll be down the cost curve by 10 percent.”
  • The Money Quote: “I am deeply skeptical of almost all corporate climate action,” Jane Zelikova, the chief scientist at Carbon180, a carbon-removal think tank, told me. (She served as a paid adviser to Stripe Climate last year.) “I think what Stripe did is really different, which is why I was willing to be involved with it … They’re not greenwashing. They’re literally paying whatever the price is to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Why it matters: Carbon capture is a developing technology and still very expensive. Stripe knows its getting the worst price possible, but is investing in these companies anyway, essentially taking the initial hit to pave the way for others.

G.M. Drops Its Support for Trump Climate Rollbacks and Aligns With Biden

By Carol Davenport, The New York Times, November 23, 2020

  • General Motors chief executive Mary Barra announced the vehicle manufacturer is abandoning president Trump’s fight to “nullify California’s strict fuel economy rules.” The sudden reversal is seen as a signal that GM will work with president-elect Biden on his climate goals.
  • GM pushed for Trump to loosen emissions standards set by the Obama administration, but seems to have changed its tune based on the results of the election.
  • The Money Quote: “President-elect Biden recently said, ‘I believe that we can own the 21st century car market again by moving to electric vehicles.’ We at General Motors couldn’t agree more,” Ms. Barra wrote in a letter Monday to leaders of some of the nation’s largest environmental groups.

Why it matters: The auto industry fought the Obama administration as it pushed for strict emissions standards. However, GM’s announcement may signal willingness — or decreased resistance, at least — for the industry to align with Biden’s goals, making them much easier to implement and accomplish.

Permit Denied for Alaskan Mine Project

By Henry Fountain, The New York Times, November 25, 2020

  • The controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska may very well be dead in the water after the Army Corps of Engineers denied a crucial permit. An environmental review found “that the applicant’s plan for the discharge of fill material does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines and concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest.”
  • The proposed open-pit mine posed a threat to salmon breeding grounds vital to Alaska’s Native population and fishing industries.
  • The Money Quote: “The Corps’ denial of the permit for the Pebble Mine is a victory for common sense,” said Chris Wood, chief executive of the conservation group Trout Unlimited. “Bristol Bay is the wrong place for industrial scale mining.”

Why it matters: Environmentalists, politicians and industry groups have been fighting over the proposed Pebble Mine for more than a decade, and this denied permit could well be a death blow to the project. It’s a good day to be an Alaskan salmon.

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Feature photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash.