Autodesk joins Frontier to advance carbon removal solutions globally
April 12, 20233 min read
From Autodesk News: Ryan Macpherson
It’s no secret that Autodesk has strategic ambitions to advance our industries to be more sustainable, resilient, and equitable. We believe we have a unique role to play in helping innovators design and make the solutions necessary to decarbonize the industry and successfully address climate change.
And that’s why we’re thrilled to announce Autodesk has joined Frontier, a $1 billion USD private sector initiative focused on accelerating permanent carbon removal. Our membership furthers our commitment to addressing climate change not only through our own business operations, but through supporting our customers in their own sustainability and decarbonization journeys as well.
Founded by Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify, Meta, and McKinsey Sustainability, 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.
Autodesk is joining Frontier alongside H&M Group, JPMorgan Chase and Workday. Together, we’re contributing a combined $100 million in new funds to Frontier’s advance market commitment, bringing the total purchasing commitment to over $1 billion between now and 2030.
In addition to carbon credit purchases, Autodesk’s commitment includes direct support of the carbon removal entrepreneurs themselves. Autodesk will provide access to our software tools, and potential catalytic investment through the Autodesk Foundation to accelerate technology development and the commercial deployment of their solutions.
“The advanced market commitment with Frontier is a perfect example of how sustainable finance can make a difference,” said Debbie Clifford, Autodesk CFO. “By catalyzing the development of carbon removal solutions and spurring a market for their services, we can equip innovators with the resources they need to deliver broader positive outcomes via our tools and investments.”
Carbon removal as a tool to address climate change
In its most recent March 2023 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called out that there is currently no viable pathway to keeping global temperatures within 1.5 degrees of pre-industrial levels without removing gigatons of CO2 already present in the atmosphere. The report makes it clear that carbon removal shouldn’t be a substitute for the difficult and deep decarbonization work well underway throughout the economy, but that it’s an increasingly necessary tool for limiting warming.
The challenge is that many of today’s carbon removal solutions are still nascent. Like witnessed with other low-carbon solutions such as wind and solar, carbon removal approaches like direct air capture, bio-oil sequestration, ocean alkalinity enhancement, and many others, need to significantly reduce costs to achieve mass-market acceptance at a scale needed to remove gigatons of CO2. Significant field-building effort is also required to ensure credibility, integrity, and real impact from the carbon credits issued by removal projects. Frontier, as a catalyst for advancing the overall market of carbon removal, has been an important advocate for accurate and robust measurement, reporting, and verification protocols and standards.
Heirloom Carbon Technologies, an Autodesk Foundation impact investment recipient, is a startup bringing to market a cost-effective, scalable direct air capture carbon dioxide removal solution.
Autodesk catalyzes carbon removal efforts
Today’s news builds on Autodesk’s work over many years supporting carbon removal entrepreneurs and innovators. Startups like Heirloom, Climate Robotics, and Vesta have collaborated with Autodesk and the Autodesk Foundation to access Autodesk technology, networks, and training as they scale emerging carbon removal technologies ranging from direct air capture to biochar to coastal carbon capture.
The journey ahead
Annual demand for carbon removal will need to grow many times over—to hundreds of billions of dollars per year—to meet the scale and timeline suggested by the IPCC climate models. The industry is in its earliest infancy, and we urge other companies, governments, investors, and entrepreneurs to join us as we strive, through collective action, for greater standardization, innovation, and deployment.