An advance market commitment to accelerate carbon removal

Frontier is an advance market commitment to buy an initial $925M of permanent carbon removal between 2022 and 2030. It’s funded by Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify, Meta, McKinsey, and tens of thousands of businesses using Stripe Climate.

Stripe Alphabet Shopify McKinsey

How Frontier works

Frontier is an advance market commitment (AMC) that aims to accelerate the development of carbon removal technologies by guaranteeing future demand for them. The goal is to send a strong demand signal to researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors that there is a growing market for these technologies. Importantly, Frontier aims to help create net new carbon removal supply rather than compete over what exists today.

In practice, its team of technical and commercial experts facilitates purchases from high-potential carbon removal companies on behalf of buyers. Over time, we plan to open Frontier to new buyers to further increase demand and spur new supply.

The concept of an AMC is borrowed from vaccine development and was piloted a decade ago. The first AMC accelerated the development of pneumococcal vaccines for low-income countries, saving an estimated 700,000 lives.

While the market dynamics of carbon removal and vaccines are not identical, they face similar challenges: uncertainty about long-term demand and unproven technologies. AMCs have the power to send a strong and immediate demand signal without picking winning technologies at the start.

Overview of how Frontier works

Illustrative only

Buyer

$300M

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$200M

Buyer

$100M

Frontier

Acts on behalf of buyers and suppliers

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𝑥 tons at $400/ton

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𝑥 tons at $300/ton

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𝑥 tons at $200/ton

1 | Frontier aggregates demand to set an annual maximum spend

Buyers decide how much they want to spend on carbon removal each year between 2022 and 2030. Frontier aggregates commitments to set a total annual demand pool. Suppliers apply for consideration as part of regular RFP processes.

2 | Frontier vets suppliers and facilitates carbon removal purchases

For early-stage suppliers, agreements will likely take the form of low-volume prepurchases. For larger suppliers ready to scale, Frontier will facilitate offtake agreements to purchase future tons of carbon removal at an agreed price if and when delivered.

3 | Suppliers remove carbon and pass tons back to buyers

When tons of carbon are removed, suppliers get paid. In the case of offtake agreements, tons are issued back to buyers.

Focusing on scalable, permanent solutions

We look for permanent carbon removal solutions that have the potential to be low-cost and high-volume in the future, even if they’re not today. Specifically, Frontier will focus on technologies that meet the following criteria:

CriteriaDescription
PermanenceStores carbon permanently (>1,000 years)
Physical footprintTakes advantage of carbon sinks less constrained by arable land
CostHas a path to being affordable at scale (<$100 per ton)
CapacityHas a path to being a meaningful part of the carbon removal solution portfolio (>0.5 gigatons per year)
Net negativityResults in a net reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide
AdditionalityResults in net new carbon removed, rather than taking credit for removal that was already going to occur
VerifiabilityHas a path to using scientifically rigorous and transparent methods for monitoring and verification
Safety and legalityIs working towards the highest standards of safety, compliance, and local environmental outcomes; actively mitigates risks and negative environmental and other externalities on an ongoing basis

Learn more about Frontier

Hear from scientists, entrepreneurs, and economists working on carbon removal.

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Carbon removal needs a bold assist

To avoid the worst effects of climate change, most climate models agree it won’t be enough to just reduce emissions. We’ll also need to permanently remove gigatons of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere and ocean.

While we have some ways to capture carbon, such as planting trees or soil carbon sequestration, these solutions alone are unlikely to scale to the size of the problem.

In short, we need a gigaton-scale portfolio of new and permanent carbon removal solutions.

While carbon removal has made significant progress over the past few years, it’s still not at all on track to get to the required scale. As of 2021, less than 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide had been permanently removed from the atmosphere by new technologies—1 million times short of the annual scale needed.

Carbon removal needs a bold assist. An AMC can give the industry the confidence to begin building, and to do so with urgency.

Path to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C

Limit global temperature increase to:

Historical emissions ~1.5°C path ~3°C (Current path)
Net CO₂ emissions (GtCO₂/yr)
50 40 30 20 10 0 -10 -20
Year
1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050 2060 2070 2080 2090 2100
Carbon emissions Carbon removal Net CO₂ emissions Current path
Carbon removal needed to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C
Historical Emissions via Global Carbon Project¹, "Current path" shows SSP4-6.0²³, removal pathways adapted from CICERO⁴. For simplicity this chart only shows CO₂, though the modeled scenarios account for other greenhouse gas emissions, all of which will need to be reduced.

Q&A

How many tons of carbon removal will $925M buy?
We don’t know yet. Frontier will target technologies that are high quality and have the greatest long-term potential, rather than what is cheap today. For that reason, we don’t know in advance how many tons we’ll be able to buy, or what the price per ton will be. We’re committed to transparency as we begin purchasing tons.
What are examples of the carbon removal solutions Frontier looks for?
Frontier will aim to facilitate purchases from companies that represent a diversity of technological approaches to carbon removal. Examples of some of the promising technologies in this space can be found here and here.
How do carbon removal companies apply for funding?
Frontier will issue regular RFPs to source carbon removal supply. Responses will be vetted by the Frontier team and a network of technical experts. To make sure you hear about our next round of purchases, get in touch here.
How will funds be spent over the nine-year period?
Each Frontier buyer determines their maximum annual spend between 2022 and 2030. Frontier will aggregate demand to determine an estimated maximum spend per year, and then facilitate purchases up to that maximum spend. We expect annual amounts of money spent and tonnage removed to increase substantially over the life of the commitment as the field of carbon removal matures.
Do buyers get a return?
No. Frontier will facilitate purchases of carbon removal on behalf of buyers. It won’t make or facilitate equity investments at this time.
Can additional companies buy through Frontier?
Yes, we’ve designed Frontier to encourage other companies to participate. In the short term, Frontier is focused on organizations looking to make multimillion dollar commitments, but expects to facilitate smaller commitments in the future. Get in touch here.
How will credits be issued for tons delivered?
We don’t exactly know yet. In order to confidently issue credits we first need robust measurement and verification tools (M&V), which haven’t been fully developed yet. Frontier will be actively working to advance carbon removal M&V in parallel with our purchasing. If you’re working on reimagining M&V for carbon removal, we’d love to hear from you!
Who runs Frontier?
Frontier is run by a dedicated team of technical and commercial experts, led by Nan Ransohoff, on behalf of founding buyers.
How is Frontier governed?
Frontier is a public benefit LLC wholly owned by Stripe Inc. Frontier founders serve on the Founder Advisory Board, which oversees the high-level objectives of Frontier’s activities. Frontier is also advised by a multidisciplinary group of industry experts.

Advisors

Susan Athey

Stanford

Tom Kalil

Schmidt Futures

Arun Majumdar

Stanford

Ilan Gur

Activate

Dane Boysen

Modular Chemical

Rachel Glennerster

University of Chicago

Christopher Snyder

Dartmouth College

Sarah Sclarsic

Voyager

Ryan Orbuch

Lowercarbon

Jeremy Freeman

CarbonPlan

Technical reviewers

Habib Azarabadi, PhD

Arizona State University

Direct Air Capture
Holly Jean Buck, PhD

University at Buffalo

Governance
Wil Burns, PhD

Northwestern University

Governance
Anna Dubowik

Negative Emissions Platform

Governance
Petrissa Eckle, PhD

ETH Zurich

Energy Systems
Erika Foster, PhD

Point Blue Conservation Science

Ecosystem Ecology
Sophie Gill

University of Oxford Department of Earth Sciences

Oceans
Steve Hamburg, PhD

Environmental Defense Fund

Ecosystem Ecology
Lennart Joos, PhD

Out of the Blue

Oceans
Susana García López, PhD

Heriot-Watt University

Direct Air Capture
Kate Maher, PhD

Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

Geochemistry
Alexander Muroyama, PhD

Paul Scherrer Institut

Electrochemistry
Daniel Nothaft, PhD

University of Pennsylvania

Mineralization
Zach Quinlan

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Oceans
Vikram Rao, PhD

Research Triangle Energy Consortium

Mineralization
Phil Renforth, PhD

Heriot-Watt University

Mineralization
Sarah Saltzer, PhD

Stanford Center for Carbon Storage

Geologic Storage
Mijndert van der Spek, PhD

Heriot-Watt University

Direct Air Capture
Shannon Valley, PhD

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Oceans

Founder advisory board

Nan Ransohoff

Stripe

Kerry Constabile

Google

Stacy Kauk

Shopify

Tracy Johns

Meta

Dickon Pinner

McKinsey Sustainability

Citations

  1. Global Carbon Project. FF&I Emissions: Gilfillan, D., Marland, G., Boden, T. and Andres, R.: Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions, available at: https://energy.appstate.edu/CDIAC, last access: 27 September 2019. Land-use change emissions: Average of two bookkeeping models: Houghton, R. A. and Nassikas, A. A.: Global and regional fluxes of carbon from land use and land cover change 1850-2015, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 31, 456-472, 2017; Hansis, E., Davis, S. J., and Pongratz, J.: Relevance of methodological choices for accounting of land use change carbon fluxes, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 29, 1230-1246, 2015.
  2. SSP Public Database (Version 2.0) https://tntcat.iiasa.ac.at/SspDb. SSP4: Katherine Calvin, Ben Bond-Lamberty, Leon Clarke, James Edmonds, Jiyong Eom, Corinne Hartin, Sonny Kim, Page Kyle, Robert Link, Richard Moss, Haewon McJeon, Pralit Patel, Steve Smith, Stephanie Waldhoff, Marshall Wise, The SSP4: A world of deepening inequality, Global Environmental Change, Volume 42, 2017, Pages 284-296, SSN 0959-3780.
  3. Hausfather, Z., & Peters, G. P. (2020). Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00177-3
  4. Peters, G. (2018, September 4). Stylised pathways to “well below 2°C.” CICERO. https://www.cicero.oslo.no/no/posts/klima/stylised-pathways-to-well-below-2c