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You’re sitting at a gas pump. You’re given the option to offset your carbon emissions while filling up your car’s tank. Do you take it?
That’s the question that Kyle Kornack and the team at the Green Gas Movement are tackling. They’re developing debit cards and even a button at the gas pump that will help consumers act on climate change even while filling up. Find out how by reading this week’s Solver profile.
If you want to apply to become a Solver like Green Gas, you only have until August 1 to apply to one of our current challenges. What are you waiting for?!
- Sustainable Urban Communities
- Brain Heath
- Women and Technology
- Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future
KYLE KORNACK’S STORY
Tell us your story: How did you first become interested in the work you do?
Way back in fifth grade, I remember being given the opportunity to represent my school in an environmental competition, where I was first exposed to the concept of climate change. Since then, I've made it my life's mission to help solve this problem. So while working to scale a socially-conscious beverage company called Jubali, I met fellow Northeastern alumni Liam Madden and David Cooch. In an effort to lessen our company's environmental impact, we developed a carbon neutral eco-certification. The idea was to offset the carbon footprint of our operations to fund carbon reduction projects, passing on the cost to consumers under a carbon-neutral seal. Surprised by the viability of such a model and how well we worked together as a team, we wondered where else in the market this idea could be most impactful. Liam, David, and I left Jubali to found the Green Gas Movement to deploy the model into retail fossil fuels.
Did you have a turning point moment that inspired you to think differently about your work?
Our original go-to-market strategy was to embed a carbon offset fee into the middle button on the gas pump. But, this approach required consent from gas stations, which was a barrier to our scalability. We got around this problem by pivoting to a debit card model for our initial go-to-market strategy, as it'll be accepted at the majority of US gas stations without the need for station buy-in. The idea is simple: Connect the card to your existing checking account. Every time you use it to buy gas, it automatically neutralizes 100 percent of the gasoline's carbon footprint. As far as we can tell, this will be the world's first carbon neutral debit card when it launches this September.
SOLUTION TEAM: GREEN GAS MOVEMENT
What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
Nearly two-thirds of Americans are concerned about climate change, yet find it difficult to not contribute to the problem when they travel. Transportation, meanwhile, is the second greatest contributor of climate change in the U.S., and emissions from this sector have failed to decline. We need to act far faster if we want to prevent catastrophic climate change.
How are you trying to solve it?
We've created Green Gas Movement to give people the power to drive carbon neutral. Green Gas is simply an optional green add-on, offered at the point of purchase, that offsets the carbon footprint of gasoline. It costs less than $0.10 per gallon for a 100 percent offset, which funds certified carbon reduction projects such as reforestation, regenerative agriculture, and renewable energy. Our first initiative will be the Green Gas Card, a debit card that automatically neutralizes the carbon footprint of gasoline at most gas stations in the U.S. We're also working with gas station brands to offer the option directly on the pump.
What is unique about your solution?
Carbon offsets have been around for more than a decade, but they have failed to enter the mainstream. We believe this failure has occurred because the offsets haven't been easy or visible to the average American. Green Gas cuts out the additional steps of calculations or extra checkouts that are typical of today's offset world by embedding carbon offsets directly into the "point-of-pollution" via debit cards and at gas pumps. The idea here is that by connecting drivers to the carbon market with an affordable and easy option—offered at the moment when people are fueling their car and engaging in an activity that evokes for many the most visceral connection to climate change—Green Gas will bring the option to act on climate change into the daily lives of the 200 million drivers in the U.S.
What’s the biggest challenge or barrier your solution faces?
Our most significant challenge will be winning over the support of fuel retailers. Our first phase, the Green Gas Card, doesn't need the buy-in of retailers and will be accepted by the majority of U.S. gas stations. But in our second phase of integrating Green Gas directly into gas pumps, we'll first need to prove the loyalty and differentiation value that Green Gas adds for the first stations that are bold enough to give it a try.
Tell us a story! Who will your solution impact?
Maria Cordoba is a farmer who lives in a community in Nicaragua that has been particularly subject to the effects of climate change. Increases in average temperature have reduced crop yields and brought up the prevalence of crop-destroying pests. Last year, thanks to Green Gas Movement's nonprofit partner—Taking Root—Maria was able to generate income for a new crop: Carbon! The program offered Maria the opportunity to earn an income by planting new native trees, after which she received regular payments based on the ecosystem services her trees provide. The program also provided the hands-on training and resources Maria needed to establish a new pest-resistant coffee agroforestry (mixing trees with cash crops) parcel, which has boosted her income while measurably sequestering carbon. So by choosing Green Gas, every gallon will help Maria and her community build more robust livelihoods while confronting climate change.
This is just our first project of many at Green Gas. As we grow, we plan to carefully curate a diverse portfolio of climate solutions that will include more U.S.-based projects. We envision one being able to localize the appropriation of the Green Gas funds by district to close the loop on the impact the Green Gas members generate.
BECOMING A SOLVER
What do you think the Solve community can uniquely bring to solving your challenge?
We’re looking for connections to grant-based funders as well as partners who can help us with the distribution and marketing of the Green Gas Card. We're seeking fossil fuel retailers who are open to piloting Green Gas on the pump. Lastly, we need connections to organizations and governments who may be interested in using a bottom-up approach like Green Gas to achieve their emissions reductions targets.
If you'd like to follow along with Green Gas Movement and receive a card during the launch, you can learn more at greengasmovement.org. If you'd like to contact Kyle Kornack directly, you can reach out to him at email@example.com.