Closing the Carbon Market Gap
According to Bank of America, carbon offset supply may need to grow as much as 50x by 2050 to achieve net-zero emissions. Watch the replay as three experts discuss efforts to close this gap and the challenges in developing projects and issuing credits at scale.
Founder of Clever Carbon, and a TEDx & SXSW speaker, Michelle Li is working to make carbon literacy the new normal.
Welcome to this edition of Modern Planeteers, a series that features leaders in the sustainability space taking charge and making a difference with their work. This series aims to shine a light on some of the heroes who are working to carve out a path to a more sustainable economy and the planet as a whole. Today’s Q&A is with Michelle Li, founder of Clever Carbon and Women and Climate. Michelle is also a TEDx and SXSW 2022 speaker on the topic of carbon literacy. She believes that a carbon-literate society is one where transparency and accountability will flourish and one that is worth striving for.
Meet Michelle Li, a Modern Planeteer!
Michelle is the founder of Clever Carbon. She launched her career in Silicon Valley where she worked for some of the biggest names in tech, including Salesforce and DocuSign. A proponent of making sustainability the new norm, Michelle founded Clever Carbon to help teach people about their carbon footprint in a hip, fun, and relatable way, because what gets measured gets changed. She is a TEDx and SXSW 2022 speaker on the topic of carbon literacy and believes that a carbon-literate society is one where transparency and accountability will flourish and is one worth striving for. Michelle is also the founder of Women and Climate, a non-profit organization that inspires climate action by creating a joyful and safe space for more women to learn and talk about climate.
ABOUT THE MODERN PLANTEERS SERIES
The 90s cartoon Captain Planet is an unexpected part of CarbonBetter’s origin story. Our founder, Tri Vo, was inspired as a child by the “Planeteers,” who fought eco-villains that were trying to destroy the planet. He learned that everyone can make a difference and every step in the right direction matters. Today, the business that Tri built helps companies in all industries decarbonize, and we’re not alone in doing our part to fight climate change. In this series, we feature modern day Planeteers—heroes who are working to save our planet. You can be one too!Explore the Series
Michelle, you founded Clever Carbon in 2020 and Women & Climate in 2022. For those who may not be familiar, what do each of these organizations do to help fight climate change?
At Clever Carbon, our goal is to teach people about their carbon footprint in a hip and fun way. You don’t need to be on a diet to know what a calorie is. You don’t need to believe in climate change or want to take climate action to know what carbon emissions are. Both are data derived from facts and science.
Women and Climate is a community that aims to create a joyful and safe space for more women to learn and talk about climate. Climate can be a daunting and intimidating space to enter—we want to make it easy for women and create an environment where we can uplift each other and accelerate climate action.
Your LinkedIn bio has you listed as a “TEDx and SXSW speaker on carbon literacy.” Why do you think it’s important for people to become carbon literate, and why do you think that knowledge gap exists so prominently?
We cannot have a net-zero society without carbon-literate leaders, policymakers, and constituents. We have a limited amount of time and resources and a huge challenge to solve—removing a gigaton-scale of CO2. We need to understand the scale of the problem and focus on solutions that will help us get to 350 ppm (parts per million) of CO2—we are currently at around 420 ppm (and likely higher).
I think there is a knowledge gap because the topic of carbon footprint can seem complicated. Truly understanding the topic requires us to go back to pre-historic times and understand the fluctuations of CO2 concentration over millennia. Taking that knowledge and understanding it in the context of our challenge today is not something that can happen overnight, but at the same time, it’s imperative that leaders and policymakers are aware and educated on these matters.
“Climate can be a daunting and intimidating space to enter—we want to make it easy for women and create an environment where we can uplift each other and accelerate climate action.”MICHELLE ON WHY SHE FOUNDED WOMEN AND CLIMATE
What are some of your favorite tools to bridge the gap in carbon literacy?
I like to start simple! Clever Carbon’s carbon footprint quiz, pocket guide, and coffee menu, are easy ways for individuals to start their carbon literacy journey. For those that want to dig further, this free course covers everything you need to know about climate change and adds context to our carbon challenge.
Where do you think the most progress has been made in the sustainability movement in the past year? Where do you think we are falling short?
In my opinion, consumers and individuals are really making an impact by voicing their support for sustainable products and services. Without formal legislation, many companies are setting net-zero targets and committing to more sustainable business practices because they know this is important to consumers.
When it comes to net-zero targets, that’s great. By 2030, we won’t add more CO2 to the atmosphere. But, we actually need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to get from 420 ppm (current CO2 concentration in the atmosphere) to 350 ppm or less. Net-zero is not enough, and people don’t know that!
Have you read or listened to anything lately that you feel is important content for our readers to check out?
Most will probably find degrowth controversial, but there are many points raised by Jason Hickel that really resonate with me.
If you were to give a Planeteer Alert, what hot-button topic would you highlight for people to learn about?
Carbon literacy! We need carbon-literate leaders, policymakers, and constituents!
If you were a Planeteer, what superpower would you want to have?
The ability to show people what the future will look like under different scenarios!
About Clever Carbon
Clever Carbon‘s goal is to raise carbon footprint literacy in a hip and fun way! What’s the carbon footprint of an apple, an email, or the average person in the US? These are all important questions that consumers and brands should know. Transparency from consumers and brands will lead to accountability and accelerated climate action!