Former Senator Reuven Carlyle launches climate consulting and finance company backed with $14M – GeekWire

Reuven Carlyle was a state legislator for 14 years until his retirement last month. Today he is co-founder and Chief Sustainability Officer of Earth Finance. Carlyle is pictured in the Washington state capital in March 2021. (Photo by Washington Senate Democrats)

Reuven Carlyle, who retired from the Washington State Senate last month, is launching a startup that will offer a range of services to help companies reduce their climate impact. The company, dubbed Earth Finance, has raised a $14 million seed round and will exit stealth mode on Monday.

During his 14 years as a Democratic congressman and senator, Carlyle sponsored significant climate and technology legislation, including a bill that created a statewide carbon cap and investment program that environmentalists have dubbed the “new gold standard.”

There are other companies that offer management consulting services in the climate space, but Carlyle argues that most are more narrowly focused.

“We want to be leaders at the interface between disciplines,” he said.

Earth Finance services include:

  • Strategy and advisory services to help businesses create climate plans that align with their financial goals;
  • Climate finance and investment, including access to tax credits and other beneficial public policies;
  • Technology support such as B. Research into the validity and verification of CO2 compensation options.

Nearly every nation in the world and around 3,900 companies internationally have set carbon reduction targets, driven by political mandates and voluntary efforts. Now, governments and organizations of all shapes and sizes face the daunting task of meeting those commitments—and fast. Washington state, for example, has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, while Amazon and Microsoft have even more aggressive ambitions.

Microsoft President Brad Smith previously told GeekWire that company leaders are becoming concerned about meeting their carbon targets. “You are committed to the cause,” he said in November. “But fulfilling the promise is proving to be a challenge.”

CEO Bryan Weeks and President Garrett Kephart of Earth Finance. (Earth Finance photo)

Earth Finance’s CEO and co-founder is Bryan Weeks, formerly head of America’s institutional business at Russell Investments, a global firm based in Seattle. The startup’s president and co-founder is Garrett Kephart, who has held leadership positions in consulting, investing and policy with a focus on energy and the environment. Carlyle serves as co-founder and chief sustainability officer.

Earth Finance is based in the Seattle area but focuses on operating globally. The company has 12 employees internationally and is hiring.

During his time at Olympia, Carlyle led numerous climate and technology-related bills that eventually became law. These included legislation to create a clean fuel standard, one to create the state’s Bureau of Cybersecurity, and one to regulate facial recognition technology. At last year’s GeekWire Awards, he and fellow Senator Sharon Brown each received a Public Policy Champion for Innovation Award.

The company launches while people are still sorting out the implications of three massive federal climate policies — the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. The overall result is that they should ease America’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions somewhat.

For example, there are now “eight buckets” within federal programs just to support the development and deployment of batteries and energy storage, Carlyle said.

At the same time, national climate policy is facing new headwinds as the GOP recently took control of the US House of Representatives.

Carlyle is nonetheless optimistic about the world’s potential to meet ambitious climate targets. He began his career in the mobile industry in the early 1990s and is inspired by how technology has transformed our lives over the past three decades. He cites the influx of talent into the climate technology field — including the high quality of Earth Finance applicants. And he’s optimistic about the financial case for climate action.

“We just fundamentally believe that this old-style cliché that climate and sustainability is not financially viable is untenable,” Carlyle said. “Doing good for the planet can be financially rewarding.”

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