#1 Paul Gambill, CEO of Nori

December 6, 2017

“How do we fix this? How do we solve problems—not just make it ‘less bad’? When I look around at the approaches that people are taking towards climate change, it’s all mitigation. It’s all trying to make things ‘less bad’ than they’re going to be. Everyone seems to accept it that this is going to happen, and we’re just going to have to deal with the effects. Well, I don’t. I don’t accept that.”

Nori (formerly Geagora) seeks to solve the problem of climate change by reversing the process that got us into this mess. We’ve burned fossil fuels and emitted gasses into the air. So why can’t we simply remove these same gasses from the atmosphere and put them somewhere—in the soil, in drywall, or even tennis shoes? The Nori team developed their idea for the ConsenSys Blockchain for Social Impact hackathon. Their concept is to build a carbon removal marketplace on the blockchain that enables customers to pay other people to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, eventually lowering the overall concentration of CO2 to 350 parts per million.

On the inaugural podcast, Ross and Christophe are joined by Nori CEO Paul Gambill to discuss the concept of carbon removal and the scope of the problem presented by climate change. Paul addresses Nori's approach to reversing climate change, explaining the necessity of removing carbon from the atmosphere rather than simply reducing emissions. They also cover the basics of the blockchain and cryptocurrency, revealing how Nori would use tokens to eliminate the problems presented by the current cap and trade system. Listen and learn how Nori's carbon removal marketplace would function, how technology could be used to validate sequestration activities, and how companies are innovating around carbon removal.

Key Takeaways

[5:24] The concept of carbon removal

  • Taking CO2 out of atmosphere permanently
  • Trees accomplish through photosynthesis
  • Direct air capture (machines suck CO2 out of atmosphere)
  • Use to create new solid material (i.e.: drywall)

[9:31] Why carbon removal is necessary

  • Climate change is real
  • Too much CO2 in atmosphere
  • More than 408 ppm, rising 2 ppm every year
  • 36B tons emitted annually

[11:10] The carbon levels that would put us in the ‘danger zone’

  • UNIPCC estimates that 450 ppm is when things get bad
  • Organic matter trapped under ice (permafrost)
  • When ice melts, organic matter exposed to air
  • Organic matter decomposes and releases methane
  • Warming potential of methane 25X more potent than CO2

[12:36] Paul’s take on fixing climate change

  • Current approach to make ‘less bad’
  • What if we reversed the process?
  • Social unrest results from draught

[18:40] Shortcomings of the cap and trade system

  • Promotes reduction rather than removal of CO2
  • Middlemen (i.e.: legal compliance, auditing and accounting) add to overhead
  • Creates additionality (build plants to receive credits)
  • Must find counterparty to buy offsets

[33:35] The mechanics of Nori 

  • Realigns incentive structure, builds carbon removal marketplace
  • Makes it easier to pay people to sequester CO
  • Create cryptocurrency token backed by carbon removal assets
  • Each token equivalent to one ton of CO2
  • Receive tokens (negative emissions credits) for removing CO2
  • Tokens traded by speculators on third-party exchange
  • Establishes universal carbon price

[37:18] How sequestration activities are validated

  • Current system has 200-plus protocols
  • Auditors validating manually, further increases overhead
  • Nori seeks to make validation easier via IoT, automatic sensors

[38:31] The Carbon Harvest project example

  • Incentivizes farmer to store CO2 in soil
  • Farmers use cover crops, rotate crops and stop tilling
  • Get paid to approach farming in different way
  • IOT would measure CO2 stored in soil, farmers paid based on increase

[41:46] How companies are innovating around carbon removal

  • Interface building carbon-storing carpet
  • Nori would provide quasi-subsidy

[42:56] How third parties could develop in the ecosystem

  • Financier invest in sequestration project, pay cash for tokens
  • Growth in value = profit model for third-party lender
  • Suppliers, buyers and speculators create three-sided platform

Connect with Ross & Christophe

Nori

Carbon A List

Geagora’s Hackathon Submission

Resources

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Bitcoin White Paper

Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity into Prosperity by Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne

Carbon Removal Seattle Meetup

Interface