Alumni Q&A

Creating Effective Policy for Climate Action

Anirudh Krishnan

Anirudh Krishnan Thumbnail
Natural Climate Solutions Policy Manager

Anirudh “Ani” Krishnan MA ’21 is the natural climate solutions policy manager with Conservation International in Singapore, where he works on climate policy across the Asia-Pacific region. His work supports governments and other stakeholders in establishing the policies and conditions for the generation and trading of high-quality carbon credits from nature, towards voluntary and compliance requirements including national commitments within the Paris Agreement. He previously worked with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in Cambridge, Mass., where he managed the Innovation in Government Initiative and was a founding member of the Evidence to Scale vertical. At Jackson, Ani focused on political economy, quantitative methods, climate change, and policy communication. He was a student associate at the Yale Centre for Climate Change and Health and attended the UN climate summit (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, in December 2019 as a delegate of the Yale Student Environmental Coalition.

Read Full Bio
Your graduate work at Jackson included courses on a wide range of topics: public policy, climate change, sociology, health, economics. How did that academic foundation help prepare you for your current role?
My approach to my time at Yale centered around getting as much exposure as I could to applied areas of policy, so I dabbled in health, climate change, trade, and macroeconomics to help me further narrow down what topical area of work called to me most. I then sought to get disciplinary training in political economy, politics, and quantitative analysis to help me envision what sort of role I wanted to play in that sector. That approach is serving me very well.

In my role as a climate policy manager, I influence governments and policymakers to put clear policies and regulations in place to help them achieve their climate targets. An understanding of politics and political economy, in particular, is essential to building relationships and forming the right coalitions among diverse stakeholders.
Your current role focuses on climate policy — a pressing concern for the world. What’s the most challenging part of your job? How does your organization’s work fit into the broader global response to climate change?
With pressing concerns come a lot of challenges, of course, but perhaps the biggest one is striking the right balance between moving quickly to tackle the climate crisis with making sure we're moving in the right direction and targeting resources efficiently.

Past inaction and continued slow action means we are constantly missing out on opportunities to mitigate the effects of climate change more affordably. We need to rapidly scale financing for climate action to delay or avert the worst effects of climate change, yet the money available is only a fraction of what is needed right now. Every dollar matters and we can't afford to waste it on solutions that don't work or, worse still, are not backed by the best science.

Conservation International works in numerous areas relating to climate change, with a focus on keeping natural ecosystems intact and healthy so they can extend the runway needed for large-scale decarbonization and carbon sequestration solutions to come online.
For students interested in a career in climate policy, what is the most important thing to know?
The catalytic role policy can play in implementation and financing. Well-designed policies and regulations create predictability and lower the risk for investors, attracting the private sector. There are also huge technical gaps in the scientific knowledge surrounding tech-based solutions, yet these are all the rage, overlooking solutions we already have, at scale — nature. Good climate policy for the present is good conservation policy.

We also need cross-disciplinary thinking to address poverty, including improving the livelihoods for Indigenous peoples and local communities that depend on and steward natural resources, and shaping markets to incentivize sustainability over extractive business models.
You took Yale courses with professors like Daniel Esty and Sue Biniaz, world-renowned leaders in climate law and policy. Talk about your experiences from those classes and how it impacts the work you do today.
My first semester at Yale was my climate bootcamp. Dan Esty's class formed the backbone of my education on climate issues, covering the range of climate law, economics, policy and practice. Without this, I would have struggled to comprehend how earth sciences, energy systems, nature, society, and economics intersect to form the science and practice of addressing the climate crisis.

Sue Biniaz's class on international climate change negotiations was a humbling experience. I leveraged the experience of someone who spent an entire career building the foundational blocks of international cooperation on climate change and gained a vocabulary for speaking about the scale of the global community's achievement with the Paris Agreement while recognizing its limitations. I capped off that semester with a week and a half at the annual UN climate summit in Madrid, where I saw firsthand the difficult and slow, yet deliberative and incremental progress made through international negotiations. In my current role, I've had the immense pleasure of seeing her frequently in the climate circuit, often outside negotiation rooms, to chat about how to break the gridlock and find common ground among countries' differing positions.