Feeling lucky?     Search     Sign up / Login  
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

Between China and other South Eastern countries refusing to take low quality materials and COVID-19's impact, the recycling industry is suffering. AMP Robotics is working to change the way recycling facilities sort through material by using AI and robotics rather than manual labor while also providing better incentives to keep operating costs low. AMP projects automating manual sorting will increase efficiency by 75% and offset two manual sorters per shift. Robots and AI have a 99% sorting accuracy rate, a 90% recovery rate on useable material, and can double to picks-per-minute of manual labor. AMP is currently focused on single stream recycling facilities but is hoping to expand into demolition/construction material, electronic waste, composting and organic material, and automated shredding.  They are operational in the U.S., parts of Europe, and Japan.

Founder, Matanya Horowitz, and I discuss his background and how AMP Robotics started. We dive into the controversies of recycling, the inefficiencies that AMP is solving and where the future of recycling is going. I really enjoyed talking with Matanya and learning about the problem AMP Robotics is trying to solve, their momentum and progress, and future plans.

Enjoy the show!

Today's guest is Amy Francetic, Managing Director of Buoyant Ventures.

Buoyant Ventures is an early stage fund investing in digital solutions to climate risk based in Chicago, IL.

Amy is a long time entrepreneur and business executive. She has 25 years of experience in the energy and high technologies sectors. After graduating from Stanford, Amy started her career in the children's software and computer games. She co-founded Zowie Interactive, an interactive toy company that leveraged RF sensing technology and software to create an entertaining interface for the PC. In 2000, the company sold to Lego. After having two kids and surviving cancer, Amy wanted to dedicate her career to leaving a lasting impact on the world. She refocused towards climate investing. She co-founded and assumed the role of CEO of the Clean Energy Trust. Clean Energy Trust funds and grows new cleantech businesses in the Midwest. In 2016, Amy left Clean Energy Trust as CEO while still retaining a seat on the board. She came on as Managing Director of Energize Ventures which focused on high growth tech companies, before starting Buoyant Ventures.

Amy and I have a lively discussion where she tells me about her origins and how she first got involved in the climate fight. We talk about how climate has evolved since she started working in this space and the future of climate investing. Amy also tells me about Buoyant Ventures and digital climate solutions.

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 November 16th, 2020

Today's guest is Dr. Melissa Lott, Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

Melissa leads the Power Sector and Renewables Research Initiative. She has a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Texas, Austin and a PhD in Sustainable Energy Resources & Engineering from University College of London. Melissa has worked in many aspects of the energy sector, where she focuses on the intersection of power and public health. She's worked in government, the public sector, and academia. Melissa briefly worked on the Council for Environmental Quality under President Obama in early 2009. After finishing her Masters degree, Melissa was a Program Analyst at the US Department of Energy and an Energy Analyst at the International Energy Agency. Melissa has been a Program Director at the Energy Transition Forum and spent time as a lead energy writer for the Scientific American's "Plugged In". Most recently, she was the Assistant Vice President of the Asian Pacific Energy Research Centre before being tapped for her current role. Melissa has expansive knowledge of the energy sector and has seen many different approaches between industry, academia, and public service.

Melissa and I have a long for discussion in this episode. We dive into her background and how she landed on energy. Melissa walks me through how she sees the energy transition and how we can successfully decarbonize power. We also discuss how the Global Energy Policy team takes on projects and the modeling for their research.

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 November 10th, 2020

Episode Summary Today's guests are Jon Goldberg, Founder & CEO of Carbon Direct and Julio Friedmann, Chief Scientist at Carbon Direct.

Carbon Direct is a strategic advisor for companies with carbon removal commitments and an investor to scale carbon removal, reduction, and use. They focus on negative emissions investing. Jon has spent his career working in finance, investing, and climate focused commodities before founding Carbon Direct. While Julio, has focused his career on decarbonization and carbon removal from public policy at the US Department of Energy to research institutes. Jon and Julio, along with the team at Carbon Direct, saw a gap in science investing in the climate space. They are working to commodify carbon removal by investing their science based fund in companies building the negative emissions industry. Simultaneously, Carbon Direct is helping customers with negative emissions commitments reach their goals.

I learned a lot in the episode. Jon and Julio are the first pair to come onto the podcast and it led to a fascinating discussion. We dive into Carbon Direct, their place in the market, and how Carbon Direct is changing the game. We also discuss the areas Jon and Julio are most excited about as well as net zero commitments and the controversy of offsets.

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 November 7th, 2020

Today's guest is David Hardy, CEO of Offshore NA at Ørsted, a Danish energy company.

As of 2020, the company was the world's largest developer of offshore wind power. Having served as President and COO of Offshore Wind US, David was recently appointed as CEO of Offshore NA, leading it's mission to expanding the offshore wind industry in North America.

Before joining Ørsted, David was in the U.S. Navy and worked at General Electric in sales. David started working in wind energy and power in sales at Vestas in the U.S. and then at Senvion in Germany. After a year at Senvion, he was appointed Executive Director. Moving back to the U.S. in 2020, David found his next position at Ørsted where he was President & COO of Offshore Wind U.S. In late October 2020, David assumed the role of CEO of Offshore NA at Ørsted. He has dedicated most of career to wind energy and production in Europe but is eager to create a thriving industry in the U.S.

We talked about a lot in this episode. David walked me through his path to Ørsted and where he sees the company going. We chatted about how renewables have changed since 2009 and the future of offshore wind. We also discuss his new role at Ørsted and the process of being at the forefront of wind energy in the US.

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 November 5th, 2020

Today's guest is Rodrigo Prudencio, in Worldwide Corporate Development at the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund.

Amazon started The Climate Pledge Fund with the goal of getting to carbon net neutral by 2040. Amazon is using the fund to invest in companies that will help them meet this goal, across transportation, sustainable products and practices, and other key areas of decarbonization.

Rodrigo has lots of experience in cleantech well before his time at Amazon, including 12 years as a cleantech VC, and as CEO of a cleantech software company during the last cleantech wave. Earlier in his career, he focused on policy at the National Wildlife Federation and later at the State Department, where he was part of the negotiating team during the Kyoto Climate Change Convention.

We discuss a lot in this episode, including what got Rodrigo initially passionate about climate change, the lessons he learned from the last cleantech wave, what led him back into cleantech and his role at Amazon, and a deep dive into the Climate Pledge Fund, its areas of focus, and how Amazon will measure its success.

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.

This episode was recorded live on October 22, 2020 as part of the Co_Invest Cleantech annual flagship event. We’d like to thank Clean Energy Trust for putting on this event, and allowing us to participate.

Today's guest is Adam Browning, Executive Director of Vote Solar. A 5013(c) public advocacy organization, focused on building a just and clean energy future. It does regulatory and legislative work on the state level. They operate in 27 states around the U.S.

Before co-founding Vote Solar, Adam spent 8 years at the Environmental Protection Agency where he ran an award winning pollution prevention program. Adam passion for affordable solar started when he worked on a ballot initiative in San Francisco to fund solar on city buildings. After initiative passed with 74% of the vote, Adam was propelled into public advocacy.

We cover a lot in this episode, from Adam’s beginnings to the future of solar in the US. Adam tells me the origins of vote solar and how their mission has changed in the last 18 years. We dive into how solar works and the potential drawbacks of it. Adam talks in depth about policy advocacy on the local level and how Prop B came to fruition.

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.

This is a preview for an episode exclusively available to My Climate Journey Members. If you’re interested in listening to the full episode, you can learn about becoming an MCJ Member on the website: https://www.myclimatejourney.co/become-a-member

Today's guest is Andrei Cherny, CEO & Co-Founder of Aspiration.

Before Aspiration, Cherny worked for Vice President Al Gore as a speechwriter and John Kerry for President campaign as a speech writer and special advisor on policy. Cherny served public office as the Assistant Attorney General in Arizona in the late 2000s. Since then, Cherny has worked on public policy, communication and strategy in the private sector as president of ACE strategies and as managing director at Burson-Marsteller. Additionally, he is the author of two books and spent time as a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

We cover a lot in this episode, including Aspiration and how it came to be. We dive into how Aspiration works and what Cherny hopes to achieve through it. Cherny and I discuss the effectiveness of incentives in capitalist societies. Cherny also touches on how public policy and government helped him start Aspiration.

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.

Today's guest is Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley.

In addition to his professorship in the energy department, Dr. Kammen has parallel appointments in the Goldman School of Public Policy and the Department of Nuclear Engineering. He was appointed the first Environment and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA) Fellow by Secretary of State Hilary R. Clinton in April 2010. He's the Founding Director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, Co-Director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment and Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center. He's founded or is on the board of over 10 companies and has served the state of California and the U.S. federal government in expert and advisory capacities.

We have a long form discussion in this episode about Dan's background, how his perspective on the problem of climate change has evolved over the years and how he thinks about the problem today. Dan's perspective is particularly unique given the diverse background that he brings, which I find super interesting given the systems nature of the problem.

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.

This is a preview for an episode exclusively available to My Climate Journey Members. If you're interested in listening to the full episode, you can learn about becoming an MCJ Member on the website: https://www.myclimatejourney.co/become-a-member.

Today's guest is Michael Skelly, Sr. Advisor at Lazard and formerly Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer of Horizon Wind Energy.

A Houston-based renewable energy executive and former democratic candidate for Texas' seventh congressional district, Skelly served as the Chief Development Officer for Horizon Wind Energy from 1999 to 2008. The company was the third largest wind company in the United States. Skelly also co-founded and served as president of Clean Line Energy Partners, an independent developer of high voltage direct current long-hall transmission lines. Skelly is also the protagonist in Russell Gold's book, “Superpower: One Man's Quest to Transform American Energy.”

I was excited for this discussion as I have not had enough representation on the pod from Houston, and Skelly is a great one to break the ice with. We have a good discussion in this episode about clean energy (wind in particular), transmission, Skelly’s career and what has motivated his work in clean energy. We also talk about climate change, the oil and gas industry and their role in the transition. We had a great discussion, and I'm excited for you to hear it.

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.

Today's guest is Nicolas Pinkowski, Co-Founder of Nitricity.

Nicholas is a PhD student at Stanford in mechanical engineering, where he's focused on studying energy systems. He's also the co-founder of Nitricity, which produces ready-to-use nitrogen that uses only air, water and renewable electricity. Nicolas and his team recently won the MIT Clean Energy prize, at which I was a judge. One of the things the competition grants to the winner, in addition to money (which I'm sure he and the team care a lot more about), is to join me on an episode of the MCJ podcast.

We cover a lot in this episode, including how Nitricity came to be, the impetus for its founding, progress made to date, and some of the twists and turns along the way. We also discuss the company’s longterm vision and what's coming next. We also touch upon the experience of starting a company within an academic environment and the pros and cons of doing so. Finally, we delve into what society can do to foster more of this type of innovation, that holds promise of delivering both impact and profit.

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.

This is a preview for an episode exclusively available to My Climate Journey Members. If you're interested in listening to the full episode, you can learn about becoming an MCJ Member on the website: https://www.myclimatejourney.co/become-a-member.

Today's guest is Jason Bordoff, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and Founding Director at the Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

After his tenure in the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the president and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change (on the staff of the National Security Council), Jason joined the Columbia faculty in 2013. As one of the world's top energy policy experts, Jason has led research and developed policy at the intersection of economics, energy, environment and national security. We have a great discussion in this episode, in which Jason walks us through the many aspects of the energy policy discussion and debate.

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.