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Shopify aims to reduce its impact on environment

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The team behind Shop Pay, Shopify’s accelerated checkout method, promises to reduce its environmental impact substantially. Stacy Kauk, Shopify Sustainability Fund Director, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. We're taking a look at transactions here in retail, of course, at what is a very interesting time after Tesla CEO Elon Musk sparked a global debate on the sustainability of Bitcoin in payments after he announced that Tesla would be pulling a 180 to no longer accept Bitcoin as a form of payment for cars.

It's also worth asking, though, how payments are changing when we think about shopping online and how sustainability is impacted there. And interestingly, Shopify has been active in that space, now offering a carbon neutral way to pay through Shop Pay, which reduces environmental impact and helps plant trees through a partnership with WeForest.

And here to chat more on that with us is Stacy Kauk, Shopify Sustainability Fund Director joining us now. Stacy, appreciate you taking the time here to chat. It sounds like a very interesting endeavor to pair planting trees with payments. So talk to me about how that works.

STACY KAUK: Sure, thanks so much for having me, Zack. So every day, Shopify offsets the delivery emissions of all purchases made by consumers who use Shop Pay. And Shop Pay is Shopify's accelerated checkout. And we're planting trees in Senegal, Africa to restore the Casamance mangroves. And we're doing that at no cost to the shopper, the consumer, or the brands on our platform. We're helping consumers and brands reduce the environmental impact of every delivery that's made when they check out through Shop Pay.

AKIKO FUJITA: Stacy, we've heard a number of companies sort of go this route. But the criticism has always been that you can't plant trees quick enough to really offset the carbon that's being emitted. I wonder on the other side what the company is doing specifically to reduce your carbon footprint, in addition to the offsets you've announced.

STACY KAUK: That's a great question because you're right, you can't plant trees fast enough. And that's why we chose the project in Senegal, Africa. Because when you restore mangroves, it's not just planting trees. It's actually a blue carbon project, where we're restoring shoreline, increasing sustainable fisheries and habitats, as well as increasing soil health and the soil carbon storage that happens there. So we've got an excellent project for our Shop Pay offering.

Corporately, Shopify has been carbon neutral since we were founded in 2004. And we do that by strategically reducing our emissions and making sure that Shopify is intrinsically linking sustainability to commerce. Because the data is in. Commerce is exploding. And that's not going to stop. So what we need to do is make sure we're taking responsibility for reducing the impact of online shopping. So for Shopify, we focus on shipping emissions, as well as sustainable packaging.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, what's interesting is, you know, I've used Shopify in the past in a prior life. And it always helped me. I was allowed to accept cryptocurrencies through Shopify and Coinbase Commerce, the plug-in there. I don't know where this kind of came from, from Elon Musk, but now catching new attention there. So how does that maybe fit into your guys' also push to be carbon neutral there?

I know you've worked with Climeworks, another company we've had on the show about reducing carbon, sucking it out from the air. But I mean, how do you kind of square those things on both sides of transactions here at Shopify to say, look, we want to be, you know, pro-sustainability, but also now, apparently, if crypto is getting attacked, how you kind of square how you operate there at Shopify?

STACY KAUK: It's about having a comprehensive strategy. And it's important to make sure your own house is in order and your corporate emissions are being reduced as much as possible. But the science is clear. We need to go beyond reductions if we're going to have any chance at meeting our mid-century climate commitments and reversing climate change in the long-term. You know, for 200 years, we've been emitting fossil fuels into the atmosphere.

And we need to go beyond emissions reductions and actually reverse climate change by pulling carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases out of our atmosphere. And that's where our $5 million climate fund, our sustainability fund comes into play, where we're investing $5 million every year to support entrepreneurs that are developing solutions and technologies that will eventually reverse climate change.

AKIKO FUJITA: Certainly an important conversation that's happening within a lot of companies right now. Shopify Sustainability Fund Director Stacy Kauk, it's great to talk to you today.