Learning about climate change and solutions – The Climate Conversations

February 27, 2024

The popular narrative among experts is that individuals can’t do anything about climate change; it’s up to policymakers. And Big Oil or whoever else benefits from fossil fuels are acting like the tobacco industry by making us feel guilty about lack of personal action.

Yet, Rainmatter started investing in climate change action startups.

In March 2023, I got the opportunity to ask the founders about why they chose to take personal action when other philanthropic initiatives target health and education. The conversation is here:

The TL;DR summary is – Rainmatter is funding three types of organisations. Firstly, those with social capital to start the conversation in their local community about the sense of their house, understand and analyse gaps and needs, and make better trade-offs. Second are those with solutions – researchers, entrepreneurs, and organisations with domain skills – assembled into an easy-to-search ecosystem. The third area is think tanks, policy and governance to enable, encourage, and remove roadblocks. The over-arching philosophy is that of being ‘place-based’ meaning coming up with bottom-up local solutions in answer to, and in conjunction with, top-down national priorities and policies. The philosophy has since evolved and will continue to.

Needless to say, I loved the conversation.

By the way Hi, I’m Hansi Mehrotra. My background is in investment research and consulting but I ‘retired’ a decade ago and now just make content.

We started exploring a podcast format; we even made a pilot.

I loved the experience so much that I volunteered to produce and host a whole podcast series.

And then the panic set in.

While I was always interested in what is now called ‘externalities’ and captured in the investing term ESG, I had not followed the environmental issues in detail. Like any other well-read person, I kind of knew the high-level terms mentioned in the media in the context of climate change but didn’t really understand the complexities. So I spent the following few months learning about climate change; I started with reading books but quickly realised that it would take me years to catch up.

So I did a 3-month intensive course. I learnt a lot about the terminology, the players, the issues, the potential solutions, and the problems with the popular solutions.

I also started following some of the internal conversations. Climate activists think and talk differently from climate entrepreneurs – that didn’t come as a surprise. Sometimes they will agree to disagree. As a layperson, I was lost about what they were arguing about.

So after months of self-doubt about whether I know enough about the topic, here’s what I have decided to do.

Let’s learn together.

We are launching The Climate Conversations in which we will have conversations with founders and other stakeholders about climate action in India.

The new video podcast series will:

  • Take a learning approach so we will start with basics but try to get to actionable insights very quickly
  • Be hosted on the Rainmatter channel rather than the Rainmatter Foundation’s
  • Start with conversations with startups that Rainmatter has invested equity in and then reach out to other stakeholders
  • Experiment with formats; we are trying a ‘narrative’ format in which we will summarise the 1-2 hour interview to within 30 minutes; we might also publish the whole interview with a transcript if it’s particularly compelling
  • Have an accompanying blog post that summarises the key takeaways for people who prefer to parse

I look forward to your feedback and suggestions.

Sharing stories about what climate change is, how it affects us, what potential solutions we can encourage, what solutions could distract…it’s a big undertaking. This is my personal action…I will keep doing this as long as you are interested in learning about this as much as I am.

Let’s go.

Asking questions on financial literacy, climate and Investing in India

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