Reuven Carlyle, who last month retired from the Washington State Senate, is launching a startup that will provide a suite of services to help businesses reduce their climate impacts. The company, called Earth Finance, raised a $14 million seed round and is coming out of stealth mode on Monday.
During his 14 years as a Democratic representative and senator, Carlyle sponsored significant climate and tech legislation, including a bill that created a statewide carbon cap-and-invest program dubbed “a new gold standard” by environmentalists.
There are other companies providing business consulting services in the climate space, but Carlyle argues that most are more narrowly focused.
“We want to lead at the nexus 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 investing, which includes accessing tax credits and other beneficial public policies;
- technology support, such as research into the validity and verification of carbon offset options.
Nearly all of the world’s nations and some 3,900 companies internationally have set carbon reduction targets, driven by policy mandates and voluntary efforts. Now governments and organizations of all shapes and sizes face the daunting task of making good on those commitments — and fast. Washington state, for example, has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030, while Amazon and Microsoft have even more aggressive ambitions.
Microsoft President Brad Smith previously told Startup that company leaders are getting anxious about meeting their carbon goals. “They’re committed to the cause,” he said in November. “But fulfilling the pledge is proving to be challenging.”
Earth Finance’s CEO and co-founder is Bryan Weeks, former head of the Americas Institutional business for Russell Investments, a global company based in Seattle. The startup’s president and co-founder is Garrett Kephart, who has held leadership roles in consulting, investing and policy with an emphasis in energy and environment. Carlyle is serving as co-founder and chief sustainability officer.
Earth Finance is based in the Seattle area and will serve businesses globally. Carlyle said they have clients lined up, but could not disclose their names. The company has 12 employees internationally and is hiring.
During his time in Olympia, Carlyle spearheaded numerous climate and tech-related bills that ultimately became law. That included legislation creating a clean fuel standard, one that established the state’s Office of Cybersecurity, and another regulating facial recognition technology. At last year’s Startup Awards, he and fellow lawmaker Sen. Sharon Brown each received a Public Policy Champion for Innovation Award.
The company is launching as people are still sorting out the impact of three massive federal climate policies — the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. The general upshot is they should make America’s carbon cutting efforts somewhat easier.
There are, for example, now “eight buckets” within federal programs to support the development and deployment of batteries and energy storage alone, Carlyle said.
At the same time, national climate policy faces new headwinds with the GOP recently taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Carlyle is nonetheless optimistic about the potential for the world to reach ambitious climate goals. He began his career in cellular communications in the early 1990s, and he draws inspiration from technology’s transformation of our lives over the past three decades. He cites the influx of talent into the climate tech field — including the high quality of applicants to Earth Finance. And he’s bullish on the financial case for climate action.
“We just fundamentally believe this old-style cliché that climate and sustainability are not financially viable is untenable,” Carlyle said. “Doing right by the planet can be financially rewarding.”