Combating global climate change

By Karen Shih

Just five years after graduating from Heller, Jarnail Singh, MA SID'13, is the head of all Indian operations for the Climate Group, a London-based organization dedicated to accelerating global climate action.

That’s something he never could have imagined before earning his master’s degree in sustainable international development.   

“The skills I gained at Heller allowed me to grow within the organization,” he says. “The Climate Group wanted a strategist who could look beyond the obvious. The leadership traits I picked up during my time at Heller—coupled with technical knowledge—that’s what did the trick.”  

Of all the initiatives he oversees, which includes unlocking barriers to energy access financing and working with multinational corporations to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity, he’s most proud of the India Energy Access Summit. It has become a major event endorsed by the Indian government and attended by global philanthropic organizations.

“I had a critical role in its conception, and it’s very exciting that it’s grown to be recognized,” Singh says.

He first became interested in environmental conservation in college. After earning a master’s degree in environmental studies, he went to work for the Energy and Resources Institute, shifting rural communities from using kerosene lamps to solar energy.

“I realized that energy is one of the key drivers for development that happens on the ground,” he says. “That’s when I thought I needed to learn and explore development more.”

But since he was the primary breadwinner for his family, leaving India to pursue a graduate degree seemed out of reach—until he received the Feldman Foundation Endowed Fellowship at Heller, which fully covered his expenses, including travel and tuition, for the two-year program.

Singh hopes to be able to give back one day as well. “As a donor, you’re investing in the future for the planet. To face the challenges of global catastrophes, from epidemics to war to climate change, we need to invest in these key leaders and make sure they make their impact, irrespective of finances.”