Race to Be the First Net Zero Carbon State

What will it take to turn the Race to Zero Carbon into a national pastime? What will it take to win? And who is in the lead?

chat Posted Aug 25, 2014 by Rezwan | Category : About Us Formalizing
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Photo by Johannes Plenio

Kicking things off

Footprint to Wings (“FP2W”) is a New Jersey nonprofit that is turning the Race to Zero Carbon into a national pastime and coaching each state to win. Here’s the video to prove it:

Rules of the Race:

This is an actual 50 state Race to be the first net zero carbon state in America. The rules are simple. The first state to achieve a net zero carbon economy - with the best quality of life - wins.

Your State is your team as a whole. You are the player. Between you and the state are specialized teams. All the plays of all the players and specialized teams add up to the state score. Guess who’s in the lead!

The Clock is Ticking

There is no time to waste. The planet isn’t getting any cooler. The oil isn’t magically regenerating. Team Doom is dancing in Civilization’s end zone and we’re just playing out the clock. Check out the ticking clock and how Footprint to Wings is different from other organizations. There’s a new game in town. 

What we do

In order to win a race, you need to declare it, which we just did.

Now we invite states to formally join the race, as we develop and formalize the metrics and parameters of the race, in partnership with other organizations, using best open source data on a robust, user friendly platform. Our key function is to develop protocols and materials to track the race, referee the race, and coach contenders for the win.  We also foster carbon free coaches and announcers and recruit sponsors to provide prizes.

The problem we solve

At present, the quest for sustainability takes place in an environment of needlessly destructive communication. Folks approach the problem from their own silo of interest or ideology, often without a clear appreciation of how their vision scales and impacts others. Conversations become polarized and ugly. People give in to cynicism and despair. Progress moves at a glacial pace, while the glaciers themselves evaporate.

With the race, we reformulate the competition in a way that gets rid of distorted communication and refocuses the contenders on the challenge. We bring a rigorous performance profile protocol and NIMBY visualization process to the table, along with compassion, optimism, and a desire to see every contender achieve their personal best.

This approach facilitates a process that closes the gaps, increases choice and makes the impossible, possible. It creates the space for diverse approaches to flourish, be tested and celebrated.  The race will bring about red state, blue state and wild card solutions; build community and state spirit; inform, inspire and most of all accelerate progress to a sustainable world.

Sign up to join the race!


Carbon Criteria

Carbon is measured by CO2 emissions per capita. US national average is 17.28 metric tons CO2 per person. New York is in the lead with 8.1, followed by CA with 9.18. New Jersey is 12.54 and Wyoming is dead last at 112.8. More about the Carbon metric »

Quality of Life

An important qualifier. We don’t want to incentivize suffering. Quality of Life is subjective and has many tangible and intangible elements. We welcome the conversation about how to assess it. More refined sustainability issues can also be folded into quality of life as the footprint of most energy is really about how that energy impacts people. It’s a NIMBY issue. With all the decisions we make to reach net zero carbon - what will the impact be on our collective back yards?


Aside from the glory, sustainability and satisfaction that it brings, what is a suitable prize for a state crossing the net zero line? A bridge? A State selfie added to Mt. Rushmore?  A trophy with diamonds (sequestered carbon)? Mega-State-Scale prize to be determined and donated by the private sector. No taxpayer dollars will be harmed in the issuance of prizes.

Your prize suggestions welcome. Not just the ultimate prize for the first state to Net Zero, but also interim prizes each year for best state, most progress, most innovative and so on. There can also be prizes for categories, such as best statewide green building retrofit, best transport transformation.  There can be as many prizes as there are donors.


Join the Race! Sign up here.

Notes & Related:

Race Basics

The FIRST STATE to achieve


*NET zero. Balance the books & you’ll still be able to BBQ, burn leaves and roll coal.

**Measured by CO2 emissions per capita. More refined sustainability index to be developed as contest matures and included in the “Quality of Life” side of the equation.

***Prizes to be donated by private sector. No taxpayer dollars will be harmed in the issuance of the prize.


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