The Reversing Climate Change podcast with Nori
A podcast about the different people, technologies, and organizations that are coming together to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reverse climate change. We also talk about blockchains.

#36 Greg Rock of Carbon Washington

August 21, 2018


When presented with solutions to a problem that conflict with our ideology, it is human nature to deny the existence of the problem. Thus, climate change solutions that involve regulation or ‘big government’ result in climate denial from right-leaning groups. How can we create solutions that provide conservatives with an economic win? How can we change the psyche of red districts by rewarding them for behavior that reverses climate change?

 Greg Rock is a board member with Carbon Washington, the state’s leading advocate for putting a price on carbon pollution. Greg has dedicated his career to addressing climate change, serving as the founding owner of The Green Car Company from 2004-2008 before heading to Sweden to pursue a master’s in Sustainable Energy Engineering. Since then, he has shifted his focus to policy, working as a volunteer lobbyist to promote carbon tax initiatives.

 Today, Greg joins Ross, Christophe and Paul to explain how the study of our ever-increasing demand for oil sparked his interest in reversing climate change. They discuss the idea behind I-732, the first carbon tax proposal that Greg championed, covering the reasons why it did not succeed and how Initiative 1631 is different. Greg offers his insight around what resonates with each side of the aisle when it comes to climate change initiatives and how a marketplace like Nori might combat the ‘solution aversion’ common in right-leaning areas. Listen in for Greg’s critique of Nori’s ‘one token to one ton’ formula and get his take on our obligation to act on climate change.


Carbon Washington


Initiative 1631

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

Key Takeaways 

[1:08] Greg’s interest in reversing climate change

  • Study of ever-increasing demand for oil as undergrad
  • Started Green Car Company (first Smart cars in US)
  • Master’s in Sustainable Energy Engineering
  • Worked on first carbon tax proposal I-732 

[3:03] The idea behind I-732

  • Price on carbon = most efficient way to reduce emissions
  • Use money to lower existing taxes (e.g.: income, sales, etc.) 

[4:46] Why I-732 didn’t work

  • Ballot title read as tax increase
  • Progressive groups wanted to use money to reduce emissions 

[5:48] The difference between I-732 and Initiative 1631

  • I-732 could have served as template for right-leaning states
  • 1631 leans left, less likely to draw support from both sides 

[7:45] What messaging resonates with each side of the aisle

  • Left on board with message, but may not prioritize
  • Left responds when ‘bring home to their district’
  • Right supports when money spent in their district
  • Right responds to economic efficiency, non-regulatory approach

[9:50] How Nori might appeal to right-leaning districts 

  • Enhance economic development in rural areas
  • Reward for sequestration may change psyche

[12:13] The concept of solution aversion

  • Solution conflicts with ideology, reject problem exists
  • Climate solutions that turn into ‘winners’ change beliefs
  • Nori’s voluntary market = good first step to action

[15:52] Greg’s critique of Nori’s one ton to one token formula

  • Carbon removal involves absorption AND storage
  • Consider adding time function (i.e.: quantity x # of years)
  • ‘One ton year’ more transferable to other practices

[22:04] Greg’s take on our obligation to act on climate change

  • People in other places will suffer most from emissions we create
  • Duty to utilize tech, educational advantages to tackle problem
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