Q&A: Three graduate students discuss “The Gigaton” – a newsletter on young professionals and climate change

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Stella Liu MBA ’22, Joseff Kolman MBA ’23 and Georgia Kossoff MBA ’23 started The Gigatona newsletter aimed at inspiring young professionals to use their 80,000 hours — the Average duration a person works in their lifetime — to fight climate change. The bi-weekly newsletter is divided into two parts: identifying the most promising climate solutions based on Project draw quantified the carbon emission potential and directing readers to the key stakeholder companies involved in developing the solutions.

The graduate students leading the project bring their personal and professional backgrounds, which lie at the intersection of sustainability and business, to the informational sub-pile.

Liu worked at Arborview Capital and the Stanford Impact Fund with a focus on environmental sustainability while at Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB). Before going to business school, Liu pioneered the software behind Indigo Agriculture’s soil carbon credit program, led a new AI solution at IBM Watson IoT, and researched agriculture. vertical on the Fulbright in Singapore.

Kossoff’s next post on Gigaton focuses on plant-based foods, an area she’s personally passionate about. Her consulting career began at Bain & Company and gave her the tools to conduct pro bono cases for environmental nonprofits and social enterprises outside of work.

While at MIT, Kolman represented the university as a delegate to the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. Prior to coming to Stanford, he worked at CustomerFirst Renewables, a small renewable energy consulting firm, where his focus shifted to climate investing as a means of scalable impact.

The Daily sat down with Liu, Kossoff and Kolman to discuss The Gigaton and their hopes for the future.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.


The Stanford Daily [TSD]: What inspired the team to launch The Gigaton? How was the team formed?

Stella Liu [SL]: I just posted on Slack and our sustainability channel saying, “Hey, I’m really interested in creating a climate newsletter.” It was then that we all came together and found a common theme in sustainability. Climate change is a huge problem. However, we felt there was a gap in determining which areas actually have the greatest impact.

Josef Kolman [JK]: Another aspect that brought us all together was to write with the knowledge that we have from our different experiences or from the courses that we follow. It’s not just having this information in hand and then going to work on a specific job that allows us to use it. It’s also being able to take that breadth of our experience or understanding of climate and put it in writing, getting practice for some of us in writing, as an effective way to be able to spread those thoughts.

Georgia Kossoff [GK]: There are obviously so many ways to tackle the climate issues facing our world, but I think one of the most effective ways is through education. It felt like a way to potentially amplify your impact by steering these incredible students towards the solutions that will actually move the needle the most.

TSD: Early issues of the newsletter cover issues ranging from hydrogen, food waste, terrestrial wind, electric vehicles and refrigerants. What can subscribers expect from future issues?

JK: We have a number of authors who are already interested and writing articles for this now, so we have a good pipeline of things to come to continue to expand the set of areas of the industry that you know really have a climate impact, and we’re getting more and more people writing about them.

SL: If they have expertise in a specific climate solution and wish to write about it, they are welcome to share their knowledge more widely.

TSD: The Gigaton seems to focus on start-ups and industries. Why are authors more interested in industry than in scientific research or political solutions?

SL: We use Project Drawdown as an anchor covering the solutions. But if you wanted to work on those solutions, there aren’t really any built-in next steps. We felt that by focusing on business, a lot more roles like marketing, finance and sales are available to different people, so we thought this could be a great way for us to make an impact.

GK: Our goal is to make it actionable for students to read each article and understand the range of ways they can get involved. Our goal is to chart the landscape, politics being one of those aspects.

TSD: What did you learn working on The Gigaton?

GK: I was very pleasantly surprised by all the responses to our first article. I think the format and the way we structured the ideas really resonated with a lot of people who were interested in climate and had seen so much literature about it. For many people, The Gigaton is one of the first times they have seen information about climate change solutions and the key private players in the space being laid out and how you could get involved in a direct way.

SL: It was really inspiring to know that there were other people in the class who were just as passionate about the climate and just being part of that team was really, really cool.

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