How Australia can take charge on climate action with carbon removal


Frontier, a US$925 million advance market commitment to accelerate carbon removal is here, and Stripe’s Nan Ransohoff sees a massive opportunity for Australia.
Nan Ransohoff, Stripe’s Head of Climate
Nan Ransohoff, Stripe’s Head of Climate | Image source: Supplied

Nan Ransohoff is Head of Climate at Stripe, where her team is working to kickstart a market for permanent carbon removal. She leads Stripe Climate as well as Frontier, a US$925 million advance market commitment to accelerate carbon removal, funded by Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify, Meta, McKinsey, and tens of thousands of businesses using Stripe Climate.

In an interview with Forbes Australia at Blackbird Ventures Sunrise Startup festival in Sydney, Ransohoff explains how Frontier is starting to work with people in Australia and how Australia has an opportunity to become a leader in this space.

“Carbon removal is just one piece of the climate puzzle,” says Ransohoff. “The world didn’t realise until 2018 we were going to need as much carbon removal as we do. It’s a nascent field. Everybody is just getting started. Within this next decade, we want to get all the best ideas out of the lab and into the field. We suspect there are a lot more promising ideas than we currently see.

“There is a huge capacity for renewable energy in Australia and many of the carbon removal solutions require a lot of energy. With direct air capture (DAC), it is energy intensive. If you have access to large scale, low-cost renewables, that becomes much more feasible. This [Australia] could be a really compelling place to scale-up DAC.”

Ransohoff is looking at lagging and leading indicators. Lagging indicators include global emissions. Leading indicators are thing such as: How cheap is the technology, is talent and capital coming into the space?

“In the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of reasons for optimism about the leading indicators. But it is going to take time to trickle its way into the scale we are talking about here.”

Ransohoff puts the challenge into context by explaining that Frontier is US$925m over nine years and hundreds of billions of dollars in customer demand for carbon removal will be necessary by 2050 to reach global climate goals. Demand from the private sector alone will likely not be enough to get there and government policy will have to play a role.

The private sector can play a really important role in getting solutions to first base so that when the right policy mechanisms are in place, there is accessibility to the solutions, which is not the case right now, Ransohoff says, adding, “If we can cultivate the early eco-systems and help create the conditions for these technologies to succeed, that is important.”

“Carbon removal has made massive progress but we still have so far to go. My hope is that we start to realise there is still a huge opportunity to shape this space, and whether you are a policy maker or engineer or a scientist, there is room for you. To the extent that we can help, we want to move that along,” says Ransohoff.