01 October 2023 |

Climate education goes corporate


Here’s something off the beaten track I found noteworthy this week. Terra.Do, one of a few well-known incumbents in climate education, is developing offerings for enterprises. 

Founded in 2020, Terra.do claims it has successfully educated thousands of professionals on climate science and climate solutions. To date, its platform has focused primarily on individuals who want to transition into climate careers. Recently, and without much fanfare (at least not yet), it rolled out enterprise options on its website. 

What this tells me is that the company is expanding to add a B2B model to its existing B2C model. 

I can understand why they would want to. On the business side, there’s more predictability of revenue in servicing enterprises than consumers. Assuming a company is serious about educating its workforce about climate systems and solutions and acknowledging how much hiring and turnover many companies see, an enterprise climate education solution could look more like a software business than an education company. Said differently, there’s stronger potential for recurring revenue, which a decade-plus of outsized returns for software companies and investors has made all the rage.

And on the climate side, as most major corporations worldwide at least say they want to achieve net zero emissions eventually, it makes sense their workforces will require a fundamentally expanded and different set of skills and knowledge. 

Here’s my question, though: How much demand is there actually for a solution like this right now?

Climate education goes corporate?

As the Biden Administration rolls out its new Civilian Climate Corps program, designed to pay and train the next generation of tradespeople for the green economy (across roles like wetlands restoration, solar panel installations, forest management and more), it’s interesting to see Terra.do also focus on upskilling white-collar workers for the clean energy transition and decarbonization.

I could see there being a lot of demand for enterprise climate education. 5,200+ businesses have pledged to meet net-zero carbon targets by 2050, and 450 banks, insurers, and investors representing $130 trillion in assets and 40% of the world’s private capital have committed to make their portfolios climate-neutral by 2050. Meanwhile, 93% of these stakeholders are not on track to meet their climate pledges at current. Further, between February 2022 and February 2023, the share of LinkedIn job postings that require fluency or acumen with at least one ‘green skill’ rose 15%.

We often muse about whether organizations have the financing and technology to achieve their climate goals. But we less often muse about how they’re going to level up their human capital towards similar ends. It stands to reason that for those businesses, banks, and other financial institutions to make good on their promises, it will help if more than just their (small or nonexistent) sustainability teams have an understanding of the opportunities and challenges inherent to decarbonization. 

That said, I’m also not 100% sure corporations will ‘see’ a clear throughline between their employees’ climate fluency and company results. They may need some convincing on that front. Companies aren’t necessarily the best long-term thinkers or investors these days; the near-term ROI model on employee climate education may not be abundantly clear. I’ll be curious to track:

  • What’s actually in the programs for enterprises that Terra.Do is rolling out 
  • Who the first buyers are and how they talk about their motivations for adopting the solutions
  • How this translates to meaningful business results, whether in decarbonization, profit, or both

The net-net

I hope there is demand for Terra.Do’s new products. 

If there is, great, that’s a sign of more concrete commitment from corporations to make good on their net-zero pledges. If not, I’ll be interested to track why. Perhaps the impact on various bottom lines, ranging from net income to decarbonization, isn’t sufficiently clear. Perhaps budgets are too tight. In a sense, this program may become a bellwether of whether and how serious the 93% of stakeholders cited above who aren’t on track to meet climate pledges are about righting the ship. 

If I step back, a future dream state for me includes a world in which most people have a solid baseline understanding of climate systems and solutions and just how complex decarbonization challenges are. For one, I’d get into less spats on Twitter. More importantly, it would likely engender a lot more society and economy-wide accountability. 

But do corporations similarly dream of this world? Do they want to catalyze it from the inside out, from within their organizations? I’m not convinced. But I hope Terra.Do’s product sells well, and I hope companies commit to it earnestly rather than just to say, “Look! We’re doing something!”