Roadmap to Decarbonization: Washington State Sets Example

Reuven Carlyle speaks on the importance of private and public sector convergence and how Washington state is leading the charge in climate action.

While federal incentives are vital, deep front-line decarbonization of major sectors plays out at the community, local and state levels with investment in sectors as diverse as renewable energy, energy storage, electrification of buildings and transportation, biofuel for maritime and aviation, methane and super pollutants, circularity, density and land use policy, and regenerative agriculture.

Green Builder Media’s Sustainability Symposium 2023: The Great Conversion highlighted many of the transitions happening in society today and explored how we could flip the script on the current national dialog.

In his session, The Great Transformation: Political, Policy & Market Journey to 1.5 Degrees,” Reuven Carlyle, chief sustainability officer at Earth Finance, former Washington state senator and chair of state Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee, delivered a passionate and well-informed strategic plan for how we can meet our climate goals, highlighting corporate, government, and individual efforts within the Pacific Coast region to creatively and effectively cut emissions and price carbon.


“My hope today is to inspire you to believe that there is something powerful in a meaningful alignment between the public and the private sector,” Carlyle said. He continues to explain, “progress is possible, sub-national leadership is the foundation of action, and there is an opportunity for global thought leadership when we take the best of the public sector and the best of the private sector together.”

New regional policy alignment between Washington, Oregon, and California is setting a global standard for best practices by accelerating corporate and government climate action. Carlyle, co-founder of Earth Finance and lead sponsor of Washington state’s climate policies in partnership with Gov. Jay Insee, outlined how the Pacific Coast region is advancing the corporate and government journey to a 1.5 degree Celsius future.

Carlyle took us on a journey through Washington state’s climate history, which, according to him, is “a symbolic representation of the power and possibility of evidence-based global best practices.”

Among many monumental accomplishments is the state’s policy on cap-and-invest carbon pricing, “that the Environmental Defense Fund calls the ‘gold standard,’” Carlyle explained. Washington’s emissions targets are science-based and set in state law, which includes a binding commitment to net zero by 2050. In 2023, the cap-and-invest auction raised over $300 million.

Carlyle views the consumptive sectors of our economy as opportunities for transformation, environmental justice and equity, high-paying clean jobs, and an economic shift. He believes there is a need for effective messaging, coalition-building, and learning from global best practices to overcome political roadblocks and gain bipartisan support for sustainability. Watch his recorded session to learn more as Carlyle outlines through the 20-year journey it took to pass impactful legislation and his vision for a decarbonized future.