Every time you step outside your home, you generate carbon footprints, whether you walk to the office or visit the local grocery store.
But what if you could find out that amount and pay it, in a way that indirectly helps increase forest cover?
This is where Climes, a climate finance marketplace, comes in.
Launched by Anirudh Gupta and Siddhanth Jayaram in November 2021, the startup partners with companies like Zingbus, MakeMyTrip, Smartivity, Tamarind Chutney, etc. Each time a customer uses a service from these sites, they have the option of “neutralizing” their trip by paying a small additional amount, by which they receive “climates”. A “climate” is equivalent to 1 kg of neutralized carbon, says Anirudh Gupta to The best India.
He adds that to date, 13 lakh kg of carbon has been neutralized by customers through Clime. More than 80,000 have purchased these “Climates” through their various platforms.
Climate action at your fingertips
Growing up on Air Force bases across the country, 30-year-old Anirudh had a strong love for aircraft and aerospace. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, he worked with Airbus until 2020.
And as the world entered a new decade, it also began to realize the importance of sustainability.
“I started craving sustainable solutions in my own life and wanted to live a more efficient life. I installed a solar roof, compost pits etc… but the problem was that these solutions had to be sought, it wasn’t the obvious choice,” he explains.
“It sparked a deep interest in durable solutions. I realized that this is the biggest problem to solve. So I quit my job and dedicated ten years of my life to climate solutions,” he says. The best India.
Anirudh started by creating a non-profit organization called The Sustainability Mafia, which is a network of companies working in this field. “By interacting with companies and entrepreneurs working in the sustainability sector, I learned a lot. It also led me to a course on climate change by Terra.do. It is thanks to this course that I met Siddhanth,” adds Anirudh.
After earning a degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University, 29-year-old Siddhanth returned to Bengaluru in 2015. He set up a fintech start-up and sold it to KredX. After that, he worked as an investment professional in a venture capital firm.
“The climate really intrigued me, because I think it’s a generational problem to be solved. I would look at many companies with sustainability at the forefront. But I found most of their models were not durable,” notes Siddhant.
“As an investor, I found that their unit economics were really flawed. I dove deep into that and started studying different models adopted in the West. carbon credit space,” he adds.
His study of the carbon finance space led him to the Terra.do program on climate change.
“I was interested in how carbon credits could contribute to the transition to cleaner alternatives. In the meantime, throughout my course, I kept in touch with Anirudh and we were brainstorming ideas. We launched Climes as a project in mid-2021 for a period of three months. We thought if it worked, we would make a business out of it,” adds Siddhant.
With the help of a $4,000 grant from Terra.do, they launched their pilot project.
Making climate finance simple and accessible
The first thing the founders did was launch the company’s eponymous instrument, the “clime”.
“Carbon credits are always mentioned in tonnes (1,000 kg). But the amount of carbon emissions we generate in daily life is in kilograms. Therefore, we have made our instrument a fractional carbon credit. This way it is easy to create awareness. Additionally, we want to make climate action easily accessible, economically viable and fun to do,” says Anirudh.
The Climes model is like entering a theme park – you buy a ticket and then decide the ride.
Likewise, every time you buy a bus ticket, an airplane ticket or a t-shirt with a Climes partner, you can neutralize your trip/emission by paying for it. It costs 2 rupees/kg of carbon you neutralize.
Let’s say you purchased five climates for your bus ride. Once you buy it, you go to the company’s website. Here you will be able to see the projects you can contribute your “climates” to, for example, a “Farmers for Forests” project in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. This project “makes biodiversity-rich forests financially viable for farmers,” according to the website. Once you send your “climes” to the project, the non-profit organization will receive money.
In a nutshell, you’ve neutralized your carbon footprint by donating to a project that aims to increase forest cover and help farmers. Your bus ride has helped increase the forest cover in Ahmednagar.
“We started with a carbon neutral wedding and moved into carbon neutral travel, fashion and food. We want to make this available wherever people are. First, we show people their carbon footprint, then we give them the option to pay for it. Once you get the climates, you go to our website and choose a project that works towards carbon renewal solutions, like renewable energy, electric mobility, waste-to-energy and afforestation,” adds Siddhanth.
They calculate the amount of carbon emissions using UN-certified models, they note.
“Our innovation is that we perform these complex carbon emissions calculations in an application programming interface (API) format. It’s easily consumable and accessible to both businesses and consumers,” adds Siddhanth.
They raised funds in December 2021 through their angel investors Sequoia Capital India, Kalaari, Rainmatter, Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs India and Avaana Capital.
Climes has partnered with 15 brands currently. One of the brands, Zingbus, has helped neutralize 5 lakh kg of carbon emissions, says Anirudh. And the founders say customers are willing to pay for it, because since May 2022, more than 60% of Zingbus passengers have chosen to consistently neutralize their rides.
Prashant Kumar, CEO and Co-Founder of Zingbus, said, “Our first step towards sustainability was to serve more passengers per bus per day, so we could automatically reduce carbon emissions by 15-20%. Secondly, with Climes, we encourage our passengers to neutralize their carbon footprint by paying only a symbolic sum. At least 65% of our users have opted for carbon neutral checkout since we launched this service in mid-2022. »
Another avenue Climes is working on to neutralize carbon credits is to organize carbon neutral events.
“We partner with companies at their events and calculate the carbon footprint of the event. Companies then give their attendees the option of purchasing “Climates” for their ticket. We also work with wedding planners and have neutralized three weddings and 26.25 tonnes of carbon dioxide. In another event, we neutralized 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide,” adds Anirudh.
They hope to soon partner with more customers and offer the opportunity to “launch your climate action journey” to more people.
While more and more people are aware of the climate crisis, not everyone realizes the urgency, says Siddhanth.
“Creating a mindshare is hard. Climate action is still an afterthought for most people. We thought COVID would make users more aware of the issues we face, but there is still a long way to go. There is no sense of urgency among the people,” adds Siddhant.
Edited by Divya Sethu
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