The apparent reason for climate change, just as we hear from all directions, is carbon. In fact, it is true. But the title of this article says otherwise, doesn't it? I was determined to start my career in climate space right after my under-graduation–something thought of as an unwise decision by many at that time ;) In fact, it has been 3 years of a fortunate opportunity for having worked in product development and project management of a carbon upcycling company in Mumbai.

There is an omnipresent bias that climate change is only a technological challenge, which often makes people view it as nothing but a carbon problem. In my journey I soon realized, despite my STEM background, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

It is imperative to have expertise and people from diverse backgrounds to solve the entirety of climatic problems. So, this is me, Giriprashad, sharing some of my distilled thoughts from the points of view of wealth, communication and education for folks from business, STEM and social science to arts and firefighters who are at the career transition junction towards climate space.

A Wealth Creation problem

The first and foremost action required to solve climate problems is to understand wealth. A wise man named Jim Rohn once said,"Money is usually attracted, not pursued." The core of wealth is value. The value that one creates or gives. That makes money a form of reward or tool. Not wealth.

So, when we pursue problem solving, reward pursues us. But if this direction changes, like loop 2, problems pursue us—mostly created—when we pursue reward. This is our current model of economy, and I believe this is the fundamental recipe of the climatic disasters. And the first solution to climate action is to make people buy it and work for it.

1) Product/Service

Since 2019, I've been helping in developing carbon upcycling products like Carbon Tile, the first tile to be made using recovered carbon as a resource. The focus was on carbon utilization at scale. The product was launched in January 2020. We received plenty of love and traction within months after launch. The real work and learning came into place when the quest for paying users/ customers started. Sustainability and circularity were expected to be enough to become the market drivers. As many sharp and realistic entrepreneurs & business people know, price and convenience are the real drivers of the mass market above everything. These parameters were then factored in quite early in further product development as the goal was to take climate action to the masses.

Be it a product or service, the perception of value should wrap price & convenience around sustainability.

2) Climate Jobs

For a fresh graduate, starting a climate career in 2017 seemed not lucrative and definite, at least in India. But this choice helped me survive through the tough times of 2020. Lot has changed since 2017. Recent investments, news and commitments point out that the necessity and wide-scale participation. Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra stated that this is the century's biggest business opportunity. There are multiple streams of work in climate space branching from three main categories:

  • Mitigation/ carbon removal: involves carbon capture, storage and sequestration through direct air capture, underground storage and carbon upcycled products
  • Adaptation/ carbon avoidance: is an alternate approach to making materials, finished goods or process compared to a conventional energy, material and waste intensive approach

There was a period when one was more focused than the other. Right now, both are critical. All hands on deck is a necessity. If this appears to be just an opportunity for carbon experts, let me give you an example. Data shows the volume of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) transactions in India has grown from about 1 billion in April 2020 to 2.7 billion in March 2021. What if we could create a climate subscription service by combining financial expertise and the rapidly growing micro-transactions platform? Similarly, here are some other great potential areas in the climate startup space: product development, research & development, education, impact assessment, policy, documentaries, climate modeling, data sourcing & analysis and public relations.

And entrepreneurs: make your vision, culture and inclusive rewards so strong that people desire to work on climate solutions.

A Communication problem

Continuing from the above -

Wealth creation is not money but value creation;
Market is price and convenience driven;
Price and convenience are value driven.
Value is our perception;
Perception is our feelings and emotions.

Value is subjective. Credits to Jack Butcher from Visualize Value

Climate change is seen only as a materialistic problem, like water, fuel, CO2. As humans, we are driven by feelings and emotions. When a product, service or design connects this problem with emotions, that's when this problem is solved at scale.

One thing that went great with Carbon Tile was impact communication. The climatic impact is expressed as numbers like tonnes of CO2 saved, litres of air or kgs of waste. People usually don't get it. The numbers are flat, and lack both relatability and understandability. Let me explain.

  • We can relate with John Wick's pain when his dog was killed which was the only hope he had after his wife's death
  • We can understand Thanos's rationalization of reducing half the population to dust because of his planet's disastrous situation though we don't relate

What makes story-telling impactful is how well we are able to achieve one of these based on the context. So, if your impact is in

  • Litres of air - relate with how much air we breathe in a minute
  • Tonnes of CO2e - compare with hours of pollution/ emissions from a car
  • Kilograms of waste - equate with garbage trucks

And of course, one can figure out more ways to communicate like these. While being transparent about climate impact and impact boundaries, also called scope of impact assessment, are essential, it is equally important to communicate to your audience well. Hence, I highly recommend learning the basics of life cycle assessment which is nothing but simple mathematics and data sourcing.

An Education problem

Ah, my favorite one.

Neither I'm talking about school curriculum nor formal education but a question to oneself - how would I explain climate change to a 10-year-old who hasn't experienced climatic disasters like we do? Leaving climate naysayers aside, there is still such a  gap in understanding the science and economics of climate change.'s mission to bring 100 million people to work on climate through climate education is admirable and a global necessity. While speaking about the three categories in climate jobs, this is the third one. Having huge responsibility and necessity, we need more teachers, content creators, graphic artists, climate activists, etc to simplify climate metrics and stories.

It’s hard to make things simple and easy. Credits to Jack Butcher from Visualize Value

Air. Consists of 78 percent Nitrogen, 21 percent Oxygen, 0.93 percent Argon, 0.04 percent Carbon dioxide, and others. A mere fractional amount of CO2 in decimal points is causing global catastrophic climatic events. Imagine the scenario as we keep pumping excessive CO2 into the atmosphere. This could be another way of explaining the current CO2 level in the air i.e., 400+ ppm and its impact.

As entrepreneurs, businesses and individuals, we should use our products and services as a tool to educate the climate story. A great product is not the one that is well marketed to its audience but the one that well educates its audience. Weeks before the launch of Carbon Tile, the pre-launch period was used to educate our audience about how even a small activity like a humble Google search has a carbon footprint, how everyday products like laptops to eyeliners are made using carbon and hinting the product as a what-if idea. By doing so, the launch of the product was organic and evolutionary of the concepts and ideas we were speaking about.

If a million of us are already working in this space, the next 100 million are the current young generation. Education is step one.

Where do we start now?

There is so much more love out there than we think there is. All need to do is reach out and self educate. The so-far trajectory of my journey in climate space has been often propelled and lifted by people. I wish this piece of insights gave a quick macroscopic view of the climate problem for beginners in climate startup space from a viewpoint of people & climate rather than the usual carbon & climate.

educate people;
communicate the things right;
make people wealthy;
and what we have is
millions of conscious consumers
with buying power, compassion and ethics.

Giriprashad is an India based mentor whose work focuses on making carbon upcycled products for common consumers. Their background is in mechanical engineering and their work revolves around design, engineering and business helping in the design-and-make of such products.