On the effort to impact matrix, the climate terms gap, and climate solutions as athletes

Christophe Jospe
Carbon A List
Published in
5 min readOct 3, 2023

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the September edition of the Carbon A List newsletter. Do you know someone who would enjoy our newsletter? Forward this email to them and they can subscribe here.

On the effort to impact matrix

Often, we put in time and effort into new endeavors, hoping for results that can maximize the impact. When it’s new, it can be especially hard to know the degree to which you need to exert yourself, or the chances it might have for success. Despite what internet gurus promising all the answers might tell you, there is no one secret formula to working smarter, not harder (although maintaining an open mind and learning by doing is often the best way). But it was fun the other night when many members of our team were in person and a few of us sketched out an effort to impact matrix on the back of a napkin. This allowed us to discuss the different quadrants across high/low impact and effort and to draw comparisons to ecology, chemistry, and MMRV (measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification). Ultimately, the napkin helped us find inspiration in nature to think about examples and patterns of how to be more enzymatic to have a high catalytic effect for low effort, high impact. More ideas on that in the effort to impact matrix for life, work, and environmental accounting.

On the climate terms gap

Our last “off the climate record” event was around terms, namely ‘Climate Smart Commodities’ and related terms. We hold gatherings like this because we are aware of the huge gap between perception and reality of how goods and services are produced and the blatant goal-post movement in the sustainability industry that benefits from vague terminology. We are committed to contributing to closing this gap. We also recognize that as greenwashing terms co-opt what is otherwise goodwill and good intentions, and as climate disasters continue that we cannot afford to spin our wheels in ambiguity or in ways that disproportionately benefit the perpetrators of climate harm.

Q: What will happen to a democratic society if clarity in language collapses?

A: The society itself will collapse.

George Orwell

We are aware that by broadening definitions, we might support greater inclusivity, but at the expense of diluting the impact of the word itself. On the other hand, strict definitions can be myopic in nature, focusing on limiting adoption to only one type of actor, and losing sight on important indicators. The breadth should ideally be a balance, ensuring inclusivity and flexibility while maintaining clarity, integrity and verifiability. This balance can be achieved by setting clear criteria or offering different tiers or categories from the use of the word and creating the space for different stakeholders to understand the implications of the terms as they become defined, or redefined. Here’s a sneak peak at our latest public AirTable that we will continue to add to, use and refine. And if you want more of a ground-floor seat with our community of practice working on bridging gaps, please be sure to subscribe to this list. Beyond just off the record events, and more freemium access to things we’re working on, we’ve got some exciting things in store.

Climate solutions as athletes

Navigating the climate change chatter, sometimes feels a bit like trying to pick a side in a sports match. You’ve got the carbon market skeptics (see Rainforest carbon credit schemes misleading and ineffective, finds report; Quality Assessment of REDD+ carbon credit projects) vs. the enthusiasts who think the critics just don’t get it (see Guardian investigation “compares apples and oranges” — Verra CEO); the techno optimists (see Bill Gates Says Planting Trees to Solve Climate Crisis Is ‘Complete Nonsense’) vs. the Nature squad (see Alarming IPCC Report Makes It Clear: We Can’t Wait to Invest in Nature); the free-market startup investors (see Silicon Valley pioneer Vinod Khosla says VCs need to make riskier climate tech investments) vs. the policy wonks (see We Have the Technology to Solve Climate Change. What We Need Is Political Will). But here’s the thing: combating climate change isn’t a winner takes all game. Context is everything and fetishization of solutions and inability to address the root causes of the symptoms, could very well have us promoting ideas that leave us worse off and in even greater imbalance while missing an opportune window to do something meaningful. Every camp has its game-changing plays that, when taken as a whole, offer a more comprehensive viewpoint to more systemically address the challenge. What if, instead of duking it out in a zero sum game, we mixed up the teams a bit and discovered more common ground? Imagine the solutions we’d come up with if we started sharing the ball in a way that could actually serve the planet, not just our egos and need to be right.

What I’m reading

Referenced above

Can you help?

  • Do you (or someone you know) source dairy in your supply chain, work in the dairy industry, or retail dairy products? I’d love to pick your brain and share about about what we’re up to in the market development work as part of our USDA grant “Transforming the farmer to consumer supply chain”. Please drop me a line.
  • We continue to look for talented people looking to pick up work and join our network. We are seeking qualified people for a number of roles as contractors on new and existing projects, as well as people we can vet and work with as we land additional project based work. If you are interested in contract work with us, or to be considered as we respond to proposals, please fill out this form.

Signed,

Christophe

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Christophe Jospe
Carbon A List

Climate change entrepreneur and consultant. Recovering from carbon exuberance. I like to stir the pot.