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.

#56 Kyle Murphy, Executive Director of CarbonWA

January 15, 2019


About 65% of Washington voters support action on climate change. But after six years of working to pass legislation for a carbon tax, the state has yet to put a price on emissions. How do political divisions make the mission so challenging? What alternative solutions are advocates exploring? And how might the Nori marketplace fit into a broader policy framework? 

Kyle Murphy is the Executive Director of CarbonWA, a nonprofit committed to move Washington State toward zero carbon emissions. The organization is composed of students, activists, scientists, economists and concerned citizens who share the moral obligation to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean, renewable energy. CarbonWA is dedicated to passing equitable, evidence-based carbon-reduction policies, and Kyle has been leading the charge since 2015. A passionate advocate for change, he has a background in campaign management, fundraising, public speaking, communications and climate change policy.

Today, Kyle joins Ross, Christophe, and Paul to discuss the ongoing effort to put a price on carbon in Washington State. He shares the competition of ideas around enacting a carbon tax, the challenge of dealing with diverse stakeholders, and the CarbonWA approach to the issue of accountability. Kyle addresses why I-732 and I-1631 may have failed despite public support of climate action and explains the appetite for alternative solutions like regulations or a citizen’s dividend. Listen in for Kyle’s insight on how climate policy differs from the legalization of marijuana or gay marriage and learn how emitters might employ Nori to earn credits within the context of a carbon tax bill.



Greg Rock on RCC EP036

Milton Friedman

Washington Initiative 732

Washington Initiative 1631

‘The Left vs. a Carbon Tax’ in Vox

Todd Myers on RCC EP052

Aldyen Donnelly on RCC EP031

Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2018

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Key Takeaways

[1:25] Kyle’s path to reversing climate change

  • Snorkeling as kid, desire to save fish
  • Career running climate policy campaigns

[4:24] The efforts to put a price on carbon in WA

  • Cap and trade system proposed in 2010
  • Revenue-neutral carbon tax on ballot in 2016 

[6:30] The competition of ideas around a carbon tax

  • Revenue neutral = same amount of taxes
  • I-1631 used money for carbon-reducing projects 

[9:45] How carbon pricing differs from cap and trade

  • Carbon pricing, tax or fee puts dollar amount on emissions
  • Emitters buy, trade permits at auction in cap and trade

[10:38] The challenges of dealing with different stakeholders

  • Use of revenue (conservative vs. progressive interests)
  • Lack of basic political give and take

[15:00] Why I-1631 failed while despite public support of climate action

  • General aversion to taxes
  • Perceived lack of accountability, effectiveness

[20:03] The potential for carbon regulations in Washington State

  • Narrow approach to single facet of problem
  • Proposals to ban HFCs, set low carbon fuel standard 

[23:28] How states might deal with carbon leakage

  • Tax rebate for businesses likely to jump border
  • Exempt if do something else to reduce emissions 

[25:24] Kyle’s take on a regional alliance to prevent carbon leakage

  • Little enthusiasm around issue in Idaho, Wyoming
  • Original vision for west coast alliance unsuccessful 

[27:48] How climate policy differs from gay marriage or marijuana

  • Requires primary economic shift (change energy system)
  • Similar in scope to issue of slavery

[29:16] How fast climate change might ‘solve itself’

  • Electricity production within reach (perhaps by 2045)
  • Still need breakthrough in transportation, industry

[30:37] How CarbonWA handles the issue of accountability

  • Access to power not same as power
  • Remains independent of political party

[33:22] The benefit to a citizen’s dividend policy

  • Easy to sell to electorate, adds durability
  • Easy to balance total revenue of program

[36:18] How Nori might fit into the broader policy framework

  • Carbon tax bills with clause re: carbon sequestration
  • Payers could claim credit, wouldn’t have to pay tax

[37:47] How Nori is considering issues of justice/fairness

  • Think about how land used prior to farming
  • Consider indigenous people who don’t own land
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