Environment

We need to change our climate for the better

Anthropogenic climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. We need to tackle it together.

Two images, one of a snow covered mountain top and the other a graph showing a stylized Keeling Curve.

There’s too much carbon in the air

For the past couple of centuries, innovation and progress powered by fossil fuels have catapulted the human race forward — but not without consequences. It’s time to come up with new solutions, and scale them quickly.

In 1958, a young scientist from Scranton, Pennsylvania, named Charles Keeling discovered something striking. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere was rising by 1.3 parts per million (ppm) every year. The increase almost equalled the amount of CO2 being emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels globally. This wasn’t a coincidence.

Keeling later created the Keeling Curve, showing the concentration of CO2 growing steadily.

A chart from NASA showing CO2 levels in the atmosphere cycling below 200 parts per million and then sharply rising to over 400 parts per million in post-industrial times.

We’re setting the wrong kind of records

Before the Industrial Revolution, our air contained 280 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide on average. Now, that number sits above 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, representing the work of thousands of scientists around the world, has said, "Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history." 1

Short animation showing the redistribution of carbon in the carbon cycle over time, from pre-industrial to now. Carbon is redistributed between the atmosphere, the ocean, and the biosphere in a balanced cycle during pre-industrial times. With the introduction of fossil fuels, the captured carbon from fossil fuels is introduced to the atmosphere, the ocean and the biosphere, overwhelming the system.

What does this mean?

The buildup of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases like methane and nitrous oxide is already impacting climate systems across the planet. Continued buildup will trap even more heat, and cause problems like:

  • Rising sea levels that will likely displace billions of people2
  • Increased drought and flooding that threatens food security3
  • Ocean acidification that puts thousands of aquatic species at risk4

Humans are creating this problem. And that means we have to solve it.

Green field of vegetation with a city in the background

The Shopify Sustainability Fund

Thankfully, challenges motivate us. Shopify builds for the long term, so we need to play an active role in making a low-carbon future a reality.

Shopify is committed to spending at least $5 million USD annually to fight for our environment.

The Shopify Sustainability Fund will house all of our environmental investments, intelligently committing every dollar into the most promising, impactful technologies and projects fighting climate change globally.

Carbon negative commitment

Removing carbon from the atmosphere is an essential way to slow the accumulation of greenhouse gases and mitigate our impact on a warming climate. Shopify is committed to investing at least $1 million USD each year into carbon sequestration. To read more about our plans, read Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke’s letter.

Carbon-neutral platform

Data centers have historically been a big source of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. In 2018, we decommissioned all of our data servers and shifted entirely to Google Cloud to power our platform. With this change, our platform is now carbon neutral, as Google matches 100% of the energy consumed by Google Cloud with renewable energy.

Carbon-neutral operations

In 2019, Shopify began sourcing renewable power for heating, cooling, and powering our buildings. We’ve procured enough green energy to account for our natural gas and electricity-related carbon footprint in Canada. For travel-related emissions, which are 5x our operational footprint, we purchase verified carbon offsets.

LEED-certified offices

We look for LEED-certified office space, because it means our buildings have prioritized energy efficiency, sustainable site development, and water savings, among other environmental measures. Most of our square footage is LEED Gold or Platinum.

A mountain in the distance rises from the forest below to peek above clouds

There is strength in numbers

No single person or organization can solve climate change alone. We admire other companies that have taken on this massive challenge with energy and leadership, especially our partners Stripe and Google.

In the coming months, we will launch more initiatives to mitigate climate change, and we will work with our merchants around the globe who want to help.

We are on a sustainability journey. We urge you to join us.

2018 Sustainability Report

Read more about how we are building for the long term, for Shopify, our communities, and our planet.

Download 2018 report