Alphabet, Microsoft, and Salesforce collectively committed $500 million to a carbon removal program as members of the First Movers Coalition.
The three tech giants are a part of the First Movers Coalition, a technology coalition that aims to decarbonize industry and transport.
During the World Economic Forum in Davos, the coalition added carbon dioxide removal (CDR) to their programs.
The WEF partnered with the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and over 50 global firms. These companies pledge to invest in innovative green technologies.
In particular, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Salesforce pledged to buy $500 million in carbon removal by 2030. Whereas Boston Consulting Group has promised to remove 100,000 tonnes of carbon by 2030.
Meanwhile, AES, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, and Swiss Re have each committed to 50,000 tons (worth $25 million) of carbon removal.
The governments of India, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Singapore, and Britain have also joined the group.
The First Movers Coalition Carbon Removal Program
Since its formation at COP26, First Movers brought together firms across carbon-intensive sectors. They range from big businesses that transport goods to renewable energy firms that use steel to build structures.
The coalition seeks to commercialize clean technologies using advanced purchase commitments for commodities. It provides a platform for various companies to make such commitments in this decade.
This then sends the strongest demand signal in history for technologies needed for reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
The coalition has committed to delivering impact in six major sectors by 2030:
- Carbon dioxide removal
These hard-to-abate sectors are responsible for about 30% of global emissions. And this figure can even rise to 50% of emissions by 2050 if the world won’t do anything about it.
This is where the First Movers Coalition comes in to do something about it.
Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum said:
“The coalition’s members are truly the ‘First Movers’ who are focused on scaling disruptive innovations that pave the way for long-term transformation… rather than the lower-hanging fruit of short-term process efficiency gains.”
The Coalition now has more than 50 members with a total market cap of $8.5 trillion (10% of the value of the Fortune 500). So far, it has committed around $10 billion already, or about 1% of its members’ value.
Under the First Movers’ carbon removal program, firms are making pledges to buy carbon removal, either by the ton or putting up certain sums of money.
- The carbon removed must be verified and members must show that it can be stored for over 1,000 years.
Scaling Up Carbon Removal Technologies
According to the group’s press release:
“If enough global companies commit a certain percentage of their future purchasing to clean technologies in this decade, this will create a market tipping point that will speed up their affordability… It will also drive long-term, net-zero transformation across industrial value chains.”
John Kerry echoed the coalition’s point saying:
“The purchasing commitments made by the First Movers Coalition represent the highest-leverage climate action that companies can take… This is because creating the early markets to scale advanced technologies materially reduces the whole world’s emissions, not just any company’s own footprint.”
He further said that the addition of the First Movers carbon removal program will tackle the biggest challenge of the climate crisis.
That’s cutting the emissions from sectors where there’s no toolkit available yet to replace fossil fuels.
The latest IPCC report says that with very slow progress on emissions efforts, limiting warming to 1.5⁰C will now depend on carbon removal schemes.
First Movers CDR program is an effort to help abate rising temperature.
Through the Coalition, the tech giants work with many other private sector members. These include Mærsk, Amazon, Apple, Bank of America, FedEx, Ford Motor, Trafigura, Vattenfall, Volvo Group, Western Digital, and a lot more.
Other supporting partners include Breakthrough Catalyst, Carbon Direct, Frontier, and the South Pole.
Right now, a handful of startups are removing carbon from the atmosphere using various techniques. Paying these firms to do the job is currently quite pricey, costing hundreds of dollars per ton.
And that adds up fast when talking about a company that emits millions of tons of carbon each year into the air.
But Alphabet, Salesforce, and Microsoft’s early investments could help bring prices down by signaling there’s going to be a market for CDR.
Last April, the Frontier Group also made a similar but bigger commitment that Alphabet is also a part of. The scheme will be buying $925 million of carbon removal. Frontier includes other tech giants like Meta and Shopify as well as McKinsey.
Meanwhile, President Biden has pledged $3.5 billion to carbon removal hubs while Elon Musk sponsored a carbon removal Xprize.