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My Climate Journey on Smash Notes

My Climate Journey podcast.

December 31, 2019

A podcast about a recovering software entrepreneur (me!), and my quest to reorient my career around helping solve climate change for this next chapter and beyond. Includes interviews with people in the thick of tackling this problem, and commentary from yours truly. I'm glad you are here!



Episodes with Smash Notes

Today's guest is Jasmine Crowe, Founder & CEO of Goodr Co.

Every year, 80 billion pounds of food is wasted in the US, just from consumer-facing businesses. Food waste is also a massive climate problem. When food is wasted, it ends up in landfills and starts emitting greenhouse gases. To tackle this problem, Jasmine founded Goodr, a sustainable food surplus management company leveraging technology to reduce food waste and feed the hungry. Prior to Goodr, Jasmine founded BlackCelebrityGiving.com, where she helped start over 1,400 non-profits. She also holds a BA in Mass Communications from North Carolina Central University and has given multiple TED talks about ending hunger.

In this episode, Jasmine and I explore the adverse effects of food waste on hunger and the environment. Jasmine walks me through what motivated her to found Goodr, key phases and raises to date, and the company's future. We also dive into the barriers to distributing food, why food waste is ultimately a policy problem, and its climate impacts. It was great to sit down with Jasmine and learn more about Goodr.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded July 22nd, 2021

Today's guest is Michael Terrell, Director of Energy at Google.

Michael is the Director of Energy at Google, where he leads global strategy and 24/7 carbon-free energy initiatives for Google's data centers and global energy portfolio. In this role, he has advanced new approaches to Google's procurement of over 5GW of renewable power, pioneered groundbreaking renewable energy purchase programs, and delivered landmark projects such as converting coal plants to data centers. Before joining Google in the early 2000s, Michael worked in energy and climate law and policy. In addition, he's held various roles in the Federal government, including the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Clinton, where he helped guide US policy on energy and environmental issues. Michael holds a JD from the University of Michigan, an MS from Yale University's Environment School, and a BS from The University of the South.

I was looking forward to sitting down with Michael because Google has a massive footprint and influence as a tech leader. In this episode, Michael gives me an overview of his role as the Director of Energy, how his family's coal mining company influenced his climate journey, and key learnings he's had over the past 14 years at Google. We dive into Google's clean energy commitments, how the company has evolved since the early 00s, and where the future lies for the tech giant. I also pepper Michael with questions about his thoughts on carbon capture, if natural gas and fossil fuel companies fit into the clean energy transition, and what policies would accelerate Google's initiatives and a greener future. Micheal is a fantastic guest.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests. Episode recorded June 25th, 2021

Today's guest is Yishan Wong, Founder & CEO of Terraformation.

Before founding Terraformation, Yishan served as CEO at Reddit and was an engineer at Pay Pal and Facebook. After exiting Reddit, Yishan learned that native forest restoration outperformed any other known method of carbon capture by nearly an order of magnitude. However, he also found three significant bottlenecks to large-scale forest restoration: land availability, freshwater, and seed. So, in 2017, Yishan founded Terraformation to restore forests and reduce global emissions. Terraformation believes that reforestation is one of the fastest, most efficient, and immediately scalable solutions to address climate change. Its low-risk, politically feasible carbon drawdown solution aims to restore forests at a global scale. In June of this year, Terraformation announced a $30M raise.

In this episode, Yishan explains his motivations for founding a climate startup, the ambitious mission Terraformation has set for itself, and why reforestation is essential in addressing climate change. We also discuss Terraformation's solution, its most recent raise, and scaling global forest restoration. This is an excellent episode for those interested in reforestation as a climate solution.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded July 1st, 2021

Today's guest is Costa Samaras, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Costa Samaras began his career as a civil engineer working on several multibillion-dollar infrastructure megaprojects in New York, including rebuilding the subway line underneath the World Trade Center after September 11th. After pursuing his Masters in Public Policy at NYU and his Ph.D. in Public Policy and Civil & Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, Costa served as a Senior Engineer and Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation and an Adjust Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon. Costa has also led analyses on energy security, strategic basing, and infrastructure issues faced by the Department of Defense. Since 2014, Costa has been an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He has published studies examining electric and autonomous vehicles, renewable electricity, transitions in the energy sector, was a contributor to the 4th National Climate Assessment and was one of the Lead Author contributors to the Global Energy Assessment. Costa also developed the course "Climate Change Adaptation for Infrastructure," one of the first civil and environmental engineering courses in the world that teaches climate change adaptation to engineers.

Costa joins me to talk about the clean energy transition and why climate mitigation and resiliency are paramount as we built the infrastructure of the future. Costa explains his research at Carnegie Mellon and what motivated him to focus on climate as a civil engineer. We also have a lively discussion about voluntary individual action versus significant systems changes and why policy and public engagement is essential to address climate change. Costa is a great guest with a wealth of knowledge on resiliency, automation, and the energy transition.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests. Episode recorded June 23rd, 2021

Today's guest is Chris Stern, Co-Founder & CEO of Carbicrete.

Carbicrete is a Montreal-based carbon removal technology company that is developing innovative, low-cost building solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company's patented technology, first developed at McGill University, enables cement-free, carbon-negative concrete production. The process uses an industrial by-product – the slag from steel factories – to replace cement as a binding ingredient in precast concrete products. The process injects CO2 into the fresh concrete to provide strength while permanently sequestering the carbon.

In this episode, Chris outlines Carbicrete's mission, its technology, and what makes the company unique. Then, we dive into the process of taking technology from the lab to market and non-dilutive capital versus equity capital when raising funds as a startup. Chris also explains why cement is so hard to decarbonize and what gives him hope that we can address climate change.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded June 21st, 2021

Today's guest is Graeme Pitkethly, CFO of Unilever.

Unilever is a multinational consumer goods company with over 1,000 brands focusing on foods and refreshments, home care, and beauty and personal care. In 2010, Unilever announced its Sustainable Living Plan with climate-focused benchmarks and goals.

Graeme joined Unilever in 2002 and has served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Unilever UK and Ireland business. Before taking the CFO role, he held several senior financial and commercial positions within Unilever, including Senior Vice President of Finance for Global Markets, Global Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, and Chief Financial Officer of Unilever Indonesia. Graeme brings considerable experience to the role, having spent the earlier part of his career in senior corporate finance roles in the telecommunications industry and at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He also serves as Vice-Chair of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures.

I was excited to record this episode as Graeme has been on our guest wishlist for quite some time. Graeme walks me through Unilever's sustainability goals over the last decade, an overview of the company's carbon footprint, and how he ended up focusing on climate. We dive into Graeme's perspective on carbon offsets, carbon pricing, and the areas that are hardest to decarbonize for Unilever. He also touches on why sustainability is vital to the future of the global economy and what initiatives would most accelerate tackling climate change.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests. Episode recorded June 17th, 2021

Today's guest is Zack Parisa, Co-Founder & CEO of NCX.

NCX, previously known as SilviaTerra, is a forest carbon marketplace. Developed in collaboration with Microsoft, NCX created an AI-powered forest called Basemap to connect American landowners with net-zero companies. For landowners, NCX makes it possible for them to get paid not to cut. For buyers, NCX provides greater transparency for carbon credits that has measurable and immediate impact. Built on a decade of industry-leading expertise, NCX takes a data-driven approach to democratize carbon markets in forests.

In this episode, Zack and I discuss NCX's mission, the company's origin story, and how Zack became climate motivated. We dive into the key phases and staging of NCX, their recent collaboration with Microsoft, and what makes the company unique. We also have a lively discussion about the controversies about carbon credits, why a voluntary market can only get us so far, and what policies would most accelerate NCX's success. It was great to have a conversation with Zack and learn more about NCX.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded June 11th, 2021

Today's guest is Mira Inbar, Partner at ArcTern Ventures.

ArcTern Ventures is a Toronto-based climate-focused venture capital fund. They invest in early-stage climate startups across industries, energy, and agriculture mobility.

Growing up in Southwest Florida, Mira watched as the natural habitat around her was replaced by parking lots, supermarkets, and housing developments. After graduating from Oberlin, Mira volunteered with indigenous communities replanting trees in the Urubamba River valley and worked at Forest Trends, an international conservation organization. She then jump started her career as an environmentalist in the platinum mines of South Africa. Before joining ArcTern Ventures, Mira spent over a decade launching clean energy businesses in large corporations like Dow Chemical, NRG, and Shell.

In this episode, Mira walks me through what first motivated her to focus on climate and her career path from entrepreneurship to sustainability to venture capitalism. She explains ArcTern Ventures' approach to investing, how the firm tracks impact and supports its portfolio. Mira also touches on greenwashing, the viability of a carbon tax, and the energy leaders of tomorrow. Mira has a unique background and experience that make her a fantastic guest.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded June 18th, 2021

Today's guest is Scott Clavenna, Co-Founder of Greentech Media.

Greentech Media was a leading source of integrated news, industry research, conferences, and executive councils in the clean energy economy. Wood Mackenzie, who acquired Greentech Media in 2016, announced it would close the publication earlier this year.

In 2007, Scott founded Greentech Media and served as CEO for a decade. During that time, GTM was devoted to enabling the growth of cleantech worldwide with a mix of market research, news, and events. Wood Mackenzie acquired Greentech Media in 2016, and, the following year, Scott took on a new role as Chairman of Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. As Chairman, he contributed to the strategic guidance of Wood Mackenzie's work in the global energy transition. Since leaving Wood Mackenzie, Scott is working with Stephen Lacey's Post Script Audio to produce climate-focused podcasts. Their shows include Greentech Media's Energy Gang and The Interchange as well as A Matter of Degrees hosted by Leah Stokes and The Big Switch hosted by Melissa Lott.

In this episode, Scott takes me through Greentech Media's inception, his climate journey, and lessons learned from cleantech 1.0. We also dive into a lively discussion about the inability to uncouple policy and climatetech, why Scott is optimistic about the future, and the power of telling climate stories. Scott's unique perch allowed him to see a wide variety of climate solutions, making him a fantastic guest.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded June 14th, 2021

Today's guest is Mary Powell, Clean Energy Leader & Former CEO of Green Mountain Power.

Green Mountain Power is an energy transformation company providing power and innovative products and services to three-quarters of Vermont and the first utility in the world to become a B-Corp.

Mary's career started at a fast-growing market fund. She stayed for eight years, during which time the $200 million fund grew into $3.5 billion. Her first Vermont job was as the human resources director for the state's Department of Personnel. Mary served as director under three gubernatorial administrations. Famously rejecting the position three times, in 2008, Mary assumed the role of CEO at Green Mountain Power. In 2012, Mary combined two utilities (Green Mountain Power & Central Vermont Public Service). Then she introduced Vermonters to heat pumps and the Powerwall storage battery. Mary significantly reduced Vermont's carbon footprint. She created the first B-Corp utility in the country, committing to the use of business as a force for good. In 2019 she was voted the best utility executive in the United States. Mary is the Chair of The Solar Foundation and sits on the Board of Directors for the Rocky Mountain Institute, Vermont Mutual Insurance Company, Sunrun, Energir, and Hawaii Electric.

Mary is an exceptional guest and someone I've been looking for to interviewing. Mary dives into Green Mountain Power, the work she did the transform Vermont's utility, and the role utilities play in the clean energy transition. We also discuss where government regulation fits in, the effectiveness of pricing carbon, and what we can do to accelerate just and equity clean energy adoption. This discussion is a must-listen.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded June 8th, 2021

Today's guest is Donnel Baird, Founder & CEO of BlocPower.

BlocPower is a Brooklyn-based climate technology startup that is making American cities greener, smarter, and healthier. BlocPower analyzes, finances, and constructs renewable energy and energy-efficient projects on a building by building, block by block basis. BlocPower focuses on buildings in low-income communities and underserved neighborhoods throughout New York City.

Donnel has a passion for climate solutions that serve low-income communities. After graduating from Duke University, he became a community organizer and advocate for job growth that also addresses climate change. In 2007, Donnel joined the Obama For America campaign as a Regional Field Director and Constituency Vote Director. After President Obama took office, Donnel continued to work on green job creation as a consultant for the Administration and several labor unions, including Change to Win Federation and Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Donnel left the public sector in 2011 with the idea that eventually became BlocPower. He has an MBA from Columbia University and sits on the board at many New York institutes, The Sunrise Movement, and The Sierra Club.

I was looking forward to this conversation because Donnel has been on our wishlist for a while. Donnel explains his climate journey, how he started BlocPower, and the company's mission to serve low-income communities. We talk about how best to accelerate the rapid adoption of green buildings and the psychology of paying bills. We also touch on what holds back the industry, why BlocPower's solution is unique, and the role the US plays in the climate emergency. Donnel is an incredible guest with a wealth of knowledge. This episode is a must-listen.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded May 25th, 2021

Today's guest is Jim Kapsis, Founder & CEO of The Ad Hoc Group.

The Ad Hoc Group is a focused consultancy working to help startups succeed in complex regulated markets, such as energy, mobility, and smart cities.

Jim founded The Ad Hoc Group to help startups and investors scale innovative businesses to solve our most pressing climate and sustainability challenges. Jim has been a Senior Advisor to Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet's urban venture, and spent six years building and leading the global regulatory team at Opower. Before entering the private sector, Jim was a climate negotiator in the Obama Administration, where he helped broker the Copenhagen Climate Accord in 2009. He has experience working across governmental agencies at the State Department, Defense Department, and Congress. Jim is also the co-host of CityLab's podcast, Technopolis, about how technology disrupts, remakes, and sometimes overruns our cities.

In this episode, Jim walks me through his work in the public and private climate sectors and what motivated him to found The Ad Hoc Group. We dive into the company's mission and the bridge it's creating in the climate space. Jim also explains why policy is critical for early-stage climatetech and sustainability startups. Jim is a fantastic guest and has a wealth of knowledge for those interested in regulation, policy, and climatetech startups.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded May 18th, 2021