Every time you step out of your house, you generate carbon footprints — whether you’re heading to the office or visiting the local grocery store.
But what if you could find out what this amount is and pay for 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. Every time a customer avails a service from these sites, they are given an option to “neutralise” their journey by paying a small extra amount, by which they receive ‘climes’. One ‘clime’ is equal to 1 kg of carbon neutralised, says Anirudh Gupta to The Better India.
He adds that till date, 13 lakh kg of carbon has been neutralised by customers via Climes. More than 80,000 have bought these ‘climes’ through their various platforms.
Climate action at your fingertips
Growing up in Air Force bases across the country, 30-year-old Anirudh had a keen love for aircrafts and aerospace. After finishing his graduation at the University of California, Berkeley, he worked with Airbus till 2020.
And as the world entered a new decade, he also started realising 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 rooftop, composting pits etc…but the problem was that you had to seek these solutions, they were not the obvious choice,” he explains.
“This sparked a deep interest in sustainable solutions. I realised that this is the single largest problem to solve. So I quit my job and committed ten years of my life to climate solutions,” he tells The Better India.
Anirudh started by building a non-profit organisation called The Sustainability Mafia, which is a network for companies working in this area. “As I interacted with corporates and entrepreneurs working in the sustainability sector, I learnt a lot. It also led me to a course on climate change by Terra.do. It was through this course that I met Siddhanth,” adds Anirudh.
After finishing a degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University, 29-year-old Siddhanth moved back to Bengaluru in 2015. He built a fintech startup and sold it to KredX. After that, he worked as an investment professional at a venture capital firm.
“Climate really intrigued me, as I think it’s a generational problem to solve. I would look at many businesses with sustainability at their forefront. But I found that most of their models weren’t sustainable,” Siddhant notes.
“As an investor, I found that their unit economics were really flawed. I did a deep dive into this and started studying different models adopted in the west. This led me to the carbon credit space,” he adds.
His study into the carbon finance space led him to the Terra.do climate change programme.
“I was interested in how carbon credits could aid in the transition into cleaner alternatives. In the meantime, throughout my course, I kept in touch with Anirudh and we would brainstorm ideas. We started Climes as a project in mid-2021 for a period of three months. We thought that if it worked, we would make it a company,” adds Siddhant.
With the help of a $4000 grant from Terra.do, they launched their pilot.
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 made our instrument a fractionalised carbon credit. This way, it is easy to create awareness. Also, we want to make climate action easily accessible, economically viable, and fun to do,” says Anirudh.
Climes’ model is like entering a theme park — you buy a ticket and then decide on the ride.
Similarly, every time you buy a bus ticket, plane ticket, or t-shirt with a Climes partner, you can neutralise your ride/emission by paying for it. It costs Rs 2/kg of the carbon you neutralise.
Say you have bought five climes for your bus ride. Once you buy it, you go to the company’s website. Here, you will be able to view the projects that you can contribute your ‘climes’ to, for example, a ‘Farmers for Forests’ project in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. This project is “making biodiverse forests financially viable for farmers” according to the website. Once you send your ‘climes’ to the project, the non-profit will receive money.
In a nutshell, you have neutralised your carbon footprint by donating to a project that is working towards increasing forest cover and helping farmers. Your bus ride helped increase forest cover in Ahmednagar.
“We started with a carbon neutral wedding and moved our way to carbon neutral travel, fashion, and will get into food too. We want to make this available wherever people are. First, we show people their carbon footprint and then give them an option to pay for it. Once you get the climes, you hop on to our website and choose a project that is working towards carbon renewal solutions, like renewable energy, electrical mobility, waste to energy and forestation,” adds Siddhanth.
They calculate the amount of carbon emissions using UN certified models, they note.
“Our innovation is that we make these complex calculations of carbon emissions into an application programming interface (API) format. This is easily consumable and accessible to both the businesses and consumer,” 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 neutralise 5 lakh kg of carbon emissions, says Anirudh. And the founders say that customers are willing to pay for it, as since May 2022, more than 60 per cent Zingbus passengers have been opting to neutralise their rides consistently.
Prashant Kumar, CEO & co-founder of Zingbus said, “Our first step towards sustainability was to service more passengers per bus per day, so that we can automatically decrease carbon emissions by 15-20%. Secondly, with Climes, we encourage our passengers to neutralise their carbon footprint by paying just a nominal amount. At least 65% of our users have opted for carbon neutrality at checkout ever since we launched this service in mid-2022.”
Another avenue that Climes is working towards to neutralise carbon credits is through carbon neutral events.
“We partner with companies during their events and calculate the carbon footprint of the event. The companies then give their attendees a chance to buy ‘climes’ for their ticket. We also work with wedding planners, and have neutralised three weddings and 26.25 tonnes of carbon dioxide. In another event, we neutralised 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide,” adds Anirudh.
They hope to partner with more customers soon and offer the option to “kickstart your climate action journey” to more people.
While more people are aware of the climate crisis, not everyone realises the urgency, says Siddhanth.
“Creating mindshare is hard. Climate action is still an afterthought for most people. We thought that COVID would make users more aware of the problems we face, but there is still a long way to go. There is no sense of urgency amongst people,” adds Siddhant.
Edited by Divya Sethu