Grassroots Advocacy Gets Things Done!

By Terri Lyne Pugh & Kate White Tudor

F4CR’s local chapters have always accomplished amazing things, but we are ecstatic about a recent victory from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) chapter. 

PNW leader Mike Robinson recognized that the entire west coast is ready to grow the clean green economy. We just need to nurture (fund) researchers and businesses at this early stage when private investors are still learning about the industry’s potential to grow as big and fast as the internet. The PNW chapter, together with the rest of the west coast chapters, formed a team called PacClean to get funding for fledgling Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) businesses so they have the chance to move down the cost curve and make a meaningful contribution to climate restoration.

Mike and Chris Neidl, co-founder of OpenAir Collective, brought F4CR and OpenAir together to approach the Washington State Legislature with a proposal to fund grants for greenhouse gas removal through the Washington State budget.

Our team met half a dozen key legislators at a rapid clip. Most of the elected officials engaged with interest, understanding how putting a little money in the budget might make it easier to unlock federal funds and signal that Washington state could be a front runner for hosting this burgeoning industry.

On Monday March 27, the House Capital budget came out, and we were ecstatic! The budget writers heard us loud and clear. They included greenhouse gas removal as an activity eligible for $20 million in grant funds, offered through the Department of Commerce’s research and development program for clean energy. Check out page 22 of the Washington state budget and look for “greenhouse gas removal;” this is what victory looks like!

Mike, Jason, and Terri testified on the capital budget to thank the amazing legislators who made this happen and to ask them to preserve this funding in their final negotiated budget. 

This funding still has to go through negotiations to stay in the final capital budget and receive the governor’s signature. We hope to know for sure about this funding opportunity by the end of May. Folks who want to apply for funds should be able to submit applications starting in July of this year. We are delighted to share a glimpse of what successes our members can claim at the Foundation for Climate Restoration. 


Thank you to co-author Kate White Tudor, an advocate with over a decade of experience working in Olympia. Thanks to Jason Grillo of Air Miners, Matt Battles, Daphne Wysham, and Mike Robinson, who worked with Kate to strategize about our ask and plan meetings with key legislators in Washington. We also want to acknowledge the work of this amazing Washington team. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report this week. The Synthesis Report (SYR) of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) integrates key findings based on three Working Groups and three Special Reports. It confirmed what we all know: that human activities, through greenhouse gas emissions, have caused global warming and these emissions are continuing to rise. 

Where are these emissions coming from? Mainly from the wealthiest households in the wealthiest countries.

According to the report, “The 10% of households with the highest per capita emissions contribute 34-45% of global consumption-based household GHG emissions, while the bottom 50% contribute 13-15%.” The least developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) also have much lower per capita emissions. Despite this, many of the communities facing the most extreme climate-related events are concentrated in Africa, Asia, Central, and South America, LDCs, SIDS, the Arctic, and among Indigenous Peoples, small-scale food producers, and low-income households. 

What does the report say about climate restoration? Well…nothing directly.

Predictably, the report focuses on achieving net zero emissions, rather than the deeply net negative emissions that would be necessary to restore the climate. Reaching zero total emissions is highly improbable, so the report states that reaching net zero GHG emissions will involve deeply reducing emissions of CO2, methane, and other GHGs in addition to employing negative emission solutions. This means that CDR will be necessary. In fact, most pathways modeled by the IPCC involve achieving net negative CO2 emissions at least briefly through CDR and reduced CO2 emissions to reduce overshooting 1.5°C warming.

Additionally, hard-to-abate residual GHG emissions (e.g., from agriculture, aviation, shipping, and other industrial processes) would need to be counterbalanced by CDR to achieve net zero GHG emissions. 

Biological CDR methods (e.g., reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, coastal blue carbon) can enhance biodiversity, ecosystem functions, employment, and local livelihoods. However, methods such as afforestation and the production of biomass crops can have adverse socio-economic and environmental impacts, particularly if implemented on large scales and where there is insecure land tenure.  

Can CDR replace emissions reductions? Of course not!

We’ve said it before and the IPCC has said it again: CDR must not and cannot replace emissions reductions, but should rather act as a counterpart. The report emphasizes that the less we decarbonize, the more we will need to rely on the deployment of CDR, creating greater feasibility and sustainability concerns. Warming that exceeds 1.5°C would “require additional deployment of carbon dioxide removal” when compared with pathways without overshoot. However, overshoot will also result in irreversible adverse impacts on ecosystems and communities. Reducing emissions would limit peak warming levels, reducing the need for greater levels of CDR. This would, in turn, reduce feasibility and sustainability concerns.  

Equity and justice should take center stage in our climate action.

The report emphasizes the importance of prioritizing equity, climate justice, social justice, inclusion, and just transition processes. Action that prioritizes equity and inclusion leads to more sustainable outcomes while supporting transformative change. These findings underscore the need to continue work for climate restoration with an emphasis on equity and justice. 

“Policy support is influenced by actors in civil society, including businesses, youth, women, labour, media, Indigenous Peoples, and local communities” 

As a civil society organization working to create the ecosystem needed to equitably deploy CDR at scale through public engagement, particularly with youth and local communities, F4CR and our partners are well-positioned to ensure meaningful climate action. Furthermore, effective multilevel governance is “enabled by inclusive decision processes that prioritize equity and justice,” validating our continued commitment to putting equity and justice at the forefront of our work.

With the upcoming Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl matchup at the top of every sports report in the United States, it’s easy to forget about other NFL teams, especially the Houston Texans. Their third straight lackluster season in a row saw them lose more games than almost any other team. With the Texans’ few victories overshadowed by a multitude of defeats, it’s easy to understand why otherwise loyal fans might act as if they no longer care.

It’s similar to what we see happening with our climate. Everywhere you turn, there’s bad news about climate change, and there’s only so much negativity you can take. New technological breakthroughs and forward-looking environmental policies provide glimmers of hope that the climate crisis can be turned around. Then, the global equivalent of a game-ending pick-six happens: intergovernmental talks fail, or we learn that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise year after year. We respond with frustration, apathy, anger, and anxiety. Out of self-preservation, we act as if we no longer care.

News about the NFL’s connection to climate change is rare. After all, what role does professional football have in addressing catastrophic climate change? 

In an early contender for 2023’s most interesting collaboration, the Houston Texans have joined forces with 1PointFive, which is now the team’s “preferred carbon removal partner.” The Texans have agreed to buy Direct Air Capture carbon offsets from the subsidiary of Houston-based Occidental Petroleum to cover three years of flights to away games.

What exactly does this mean?

Direct Air Capture (DAC) is a method of removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. It specifically removes carbon that has already been emitted and is contributing to climate chaos around the world. Once the CO2 is removed, it is stored in stable geological formations for centuries or longer.

Right now, DAC is expensive and relatively inefficient, just as most technologies are in their infancy. By making this early stage investment, the Texans are not simply trying to find a quick way to prove their green credentials; they’re acting as seed investors for a concept that can contribute to returning atmospheric levels of greenhouse gasses back to pre-industrial levels – aka restoring the climate.

DAC is just one of many solutions that have the potential to play a part in climate restoration. Some, like DAC, are engineering- or technology-based. Others, such as reforestation, regenerative agriculture, and cultivating kelp and other ocean macroalgae are nature-based. Deployed at scale safely, intentionally, and responsibly, these solutions together could do in decades what Mother Nature does over tens of thousands of years.

Restoring the climate is no small task. There are over 1 trillion tons of excess carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gasses blanketing our atmosphere. In addition to removing excess CO2, the global energy transition must be completed swiftly so that we stop adding more literal fuel to this fire. 

Carbon dioxide removal (taking historical carbon emissions out of the ambient air) is occasionally confused with carbon capture and storage, which filters CO2 emissions at an industrial point source, such as a smokestack. Carbon dioxide removal is also sometimes criticized as an excuse for fossil fuel companies to continue with business as usual while doing nothing more than offsetting some of their future emissions. In isolated incidents, there is some veracity to this criticism, but in climate restoration, there is no room for maintaining the carbon status quo. The ambition is not to simply achieve net zero or keep the world to 1.5°C of warming, but to bring CO2 concentrations back to pre-industrial levels of less than 300 parts per million by 2050.

The game clock is ticking, and we can’t afford to punt. All of us have to go for it together on fourth down. Companies, especially those that have profited from the use of fossil fuels, have a responsibility to get involved in restoring the climate. So do our elected officials, who have the power to put into place policies that enable climate restoration solutions to flourish. 

What can one person do to ensure a future in which all humans can thrive? Actions like planting trees or observing Meatless Monday are helpful on an individual level. You can augment this impact by joining with like minded friends to demand that your state and federal elected officials, companies you buy products from, and — as we just found out — professional sports teams you support all take meaningful action to restore the climate.

We know for sure that the Texans won’t be lifting the Lombardi Trophy on February 12th. But by becoming an early adopter of carbon dioxide removal, they’ll be taking home the ‘W’ for the climate we all share. 

Rick Wayman is President & CEO of the Foundation for Climate Restoration (