My Climate Journey

Jason Jacobs

A growing body of knowledge about climate change and potential solutions. This series traverses disciplines, industries, and opinions with hundreds of deep-dive conversations with science, technology, and climate leaders. Hosted by Jason Jacobs and Cody Simms.

  • 50 minutes 13 seconds
    Startup Series: Hoxton Farms’ Cruelty-Free Fats

    Max Jamilly, CEO and Co-founder at Hoxton Farms. And today, we're talking about fat. 

    Hoxton Farms, a London-based startup, grows and sells animal fats without animals. They aspire to be an ingredients provider; cultivating fats via bioreactors and selling cruelty-free and sustainable fats to other food brands, starting with meat alternatives. 

    It's been a challenging time for the alt-meat space, and we were eager to hear how Max feels the industry will develop and the role Hoxton Farms can play therein. He's also got a vision for how Hoxton Farms can expand beyond that initial market over time. Hoxton raised a series A led by Fine Structure Ventures and Collaborative Fund in late 2022, in which MCJ is proud to have participated. So grab a plate and let's dig in.

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • [1:37] Intro to Hoxton Farms
    • [2:36] Founders' background: Max Jamilly and Ed Steele
    • [5:51] Meat alternative industry: Challenges and opportunities
    • [9:00] Expansion potential beyond meat alternatives
    • [12:56] Cost parity with traditional animal fats
    • [17:08] Scalability, production, and commercialization plan
    • [18:51] Consumer appetite for meat alternatives
    • [24:49] Regulatory environment and labeling requirements
    • [32:56] Hoxton Farms' pork fat cultivation process
    • [34:48] Potential for genetic engineering in cultivation
    • [40:18] Overview of Hoxton's facility
    • [42:48] Capitalization and financing history
    • [46:13] Importance of branding and merchandise
    • [47:21] Hoxton Farms is hiring!

    Episode recorded on June 26, 2024 (Published on July 18, 2024)

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    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    18 July 2024, 9:00 am
  • 56 minutes 22 seconds
    Startup Series: Permanent Geologic Carbon Storage with Vaulted Deep

    Julia Reichelstein is the CEO and Co-founder at Vaulted Deep, a carbon removal company that injects carbon-rich waste slurries deep underground into permanent geologic storage. They've come onto the scene quite fast recently securing just north of a $58 million order from Frontier to sequester over 152,000 tons of carbon between now and 2027, which is Frontier's largest commitment yet. They're one of 20 finalist teams still in the mix for the $100 million Carbon Removal Xprize, and one of 24 semi-finalists of the DOE's Carbon Dioxide Removal Purchase Pilot Prize. Try saying that three times fast.

    They also recently announced an $8 million seed round led by Lowercarbon Capital with participation from Earthshot, Woven Earth, Collaborative Fund and others. We got to know Julia and her co-founder Omar Abou-Sayed as they set up Vaulted as a spin-out of Omar's waste disposal company, Advantek. Vaulted is a complex set of operations based on a relatively simple construct: Humans have been sucking geologically stored carbon in the form of oil out of the ground for 150 years now. What if we could put it back? 

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • Backgrounds of Vaulted's co-founders and the company's mission
    • How Vaulted turns organic waste into carbon storage
    • Julia's shift from venture capital to carbon removal
    • Advantek's history and technological contribution to Vaulted
    • Technical details of Vaulted's sequestration wells
    • Types of wells used in Vaulted's process
    • Community and environmental benefits
    • Vaulted's business model and financial sustainability
    • The rigorous process for selecting and processing waste for carbon removal
    • Comparison of carbon removal strategies and Vaulted's unique approach
    • Financial and ecological benefits of Vaulted's methodology
    • Hutchinson Kansas facility's role and historical significance
    • Vaulted's partnership with Frontier for carbon removal
    • Vaulted's participation in the $100 million Carbon Removal Xprize competition
    • Potential global health impact of Vaulted's technology
    • Open roles and opportunities at Vaulted for furthering its mission

    Episode recorded on Jun 17, 2024 (Published on Jul 11, 2024)

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    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    11 July 2024, 9:00 am
  • 44 minutes 23 seconds
    Startup Series: Rhizome's Resilience Planning for Utilities

    Mish Thadani is the CEO and Co-founder of Rhizome. Rhizome helps utilities plan for resilience. It's an AI-powered software platform that helps electric utilities identify vulnerabilities from climate threats to quantify risk and to measure the economic and social benefits of grid enhancing investments. 

    In our discussion, we delve into how utilities address vulnerabilities arising from extreme weather and other climate change impacts. We also explore how they balance preventive investments to avoid disaster-related outages with strategies to rapidly recover after incidents. 

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • [2:42] Exploring the definition of resilience
    • [6:26] Vulnerabilities of utilities to climate and weather extremes
    • [10:02] Data-driven balancing of utility investments
    • [14:15] Enhancing decision-making in utilities with Rhizome's software
    • [16:43] Comparing physical asset and capacity risks
    • [18:07] Reconductor technology as a resilience strategy
    • [22:53] Regulatory challenges in resilience investments
    • [25:50] The impact of proactive resilience investments
    • [29:42] Inside look at Rhizome's software platform
    • [33:35] Rhizome's market strategy and achievements
    • [36:07] Federal initiatives on resilience: expectations and realities
    • [39:53] AI in resilience: challenges and opportunities
    • [42:34] Where Rhizome needs help

    Episode recorded on May 23, 2024 (Published on June 27, 2024)

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    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    27 June 2024, 9:00 am
  • 1 hour 5 seconds
    Onshoring Clean Energy with Giulia Siccardo, DOE's Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains

    Today's conversation is all about how the US is trying to onshore manufacturing of key clean energy supply chains, things like EV, battery metals, and the like. 

    Giulia Siccardo is the Director of the US Department of Energy's Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains or MESC. 

    We start out with a bit of a history lesson on why manufacturing somewhat intentionally moved offshore from the 1980s through the 20-teens and the implications of this move on the American workforce. We then talk about how and why MESC was formed and the initiatives and programs that MESC is undertaking to swing manufacturing back within America's borders. 

    To give you a bit of the detail before we start the conversation, MESC was established as a new office in the DOE in 2022 with the aim of strengthening and scaling America's clean energy supply chains through investments in manufacturing capacity, workforce development, and data analysis of America's supply chain vulnerabilities. 

    Giulia joined the DOE after many years with McKinsey, including having led McKinsey's green growth service line and having co-created Frontier, the advanced market commitment to buy over a billion dollars of carbon removal.

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • [2:55] History of offshoring manufacturing
    • [6:08] U.S.-China tensions in clean energy manufacturing
    • [9:57] Energy supply chain and workforce intersection
    • [15:14] AI as a blue-collar workforce generator
    • [17:33] Evolution of the manufacturing workforce and training
    • [22:08] Overview of DOE's Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains (MESC)
    • [29:42] MESC's non-dilutive equity efforts
    • [35:03] Critical minerals and materials for energy transition
    • [37:18] MESC's global collaboration portfolio
    • [42:04] MESC's 48C tax credit program
    • [47:05] Considerations for companies approaching MESC during an election year
    • [48:47] Giulia's background at Frontier
    • [54:04] Data analysis on U.S. supply chain vulnerabilities
    • [58:00] MESC's plans to publicly share data and insights

    Episode recorded on May 31, 2024 (Published on June 17, 2024)

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    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    18 June 2024, 9:00 am
  • 39 minutes 27 seconds
    Advancing Nuclear Innovation with INL’s Dr. John Wagner

    Dr. John Wagner is the President of Battelle Energy Alliance and Director of the Idaho National Laboratory or INL. 

    INL is one of 17 national labs in the United States and leads the nation in work on advanced nuclear research. INL boasts a rich legacy in the narrative of nuclear energy, marked by its pivotal role in producing the inaugural usable electricity from nuclear sources on its premises. Dozens of reactors have been built at INL during its decades of operation. 

    Dr. Wagner has been with INL since 2016 and has been director of the lab since 2020. Prior to that, he was the division director at the Reactor and Nuclear Services division at Oak Ridge National Lab. He has a PhD in nuclear engineering from Penn State University and has spent his career working to advance nuclear energy innovation. 

    In our conversation, we cover the history of INL, its key priorities, current projects under development, and Dr. Wagner’s vision for our nuclear future.

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • [2:00] DOE National Labs Overview
    • [5:24] Introduction to Idaho National Laboratory
    • [12:14] Current projects & reactors at INL, including Advanced Test Reactor (ATR)
    • [14:10] INL's upcoming projects: MARVEL, PELE
    • [15:39] How INL supports private firms in nuclear tech development
    • [18:40] End-to-end reactor devolment cycle, e.g., MARVEL
    • [26:57] How entrepreneurs can collaborate with INL
    • [31:17] Collaboration with NRC, support for regulatory development and training
    • [33:07] INL's involvement in fusion research
    • [34:19] John's focus on nuclear fission, U.S. rebuilding
    • [36:05] Future reactor mix: large-scale, modular, advanced

    Resources Mentioned:

    Episode recorded on May 17, 2024 (Published on June 10, 2024)

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    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    10 June 2024, 9:00 am
  • 47 minutes 27 seconds
    Inside the World of Corporate Clean Energy Procurement

    Christina Yagjian leads global renewable energy strategy and origination at Cargill. According to Forbes, Cargill is the largest private company in the USA by revenue with $177 billion in the fiscal year ending in May, 2023. Before Cargill, Christina managed the renewable energy footprint at Meta, the parent company to Facebook and Instagram and one of the world's largest corporate clean power purchasers. 

    Our topic today is all about clean power purchasing, why large companies have started buying power directly, how they prioritize their needs across factors like cost and emissions, and how they structure their agreements. This is one of the more complex topics in the climate space, combining carbon accounting with power grid economics and a whole lot of wonk. Cody and Christina keep the conversation accessible to folks who are just trying to understand the role of power consumption, emissions and large companies in the first place. Special thanks to Christina for balancing the need to help explain the overall landscape along with articulating some of Cargill's specific initiatives and focus areas.

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • [2:41] Christina's background and journey in renewables
    • [9:53] Reasons behind corporate power purchases
    • [11:19] The difference between renewable energy certificates (RECs) and power purchase agreements
    • [16:08] The role of additionality in power purchase agreements
    • [22:32] Balancing emissions footprints with the cost of power
    • [26:07] Role of storage in balancing intermittent renewable resources
    • [30:12] Challenges and barriers to clean power procurement, such as cost, timing, and market uncertainties
    • [33:24] Considerations in choosing power generators and negotiating PPAs
    • [36:51] An overview of virtual power purchase agreements
    • [43:29] Managing clean power procurement and the need for robust data systems
    • [45:52] Definition of success in clean power procurement for Cargill

    Recorded May 15, 2024 (Published June 3, 2024) 

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    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    3 June 2024, 9:00 am
  • 46 minutes 31 seconds
    The Science of Startups with Activate's Cyrus Wadia

    Cyrus Wadia is the CEO of Activate, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers scientists to bring their research to market. Having supported nearly 200 scientists in founding around 150 companies, including notable names like Fervo, Twelve, Sublime Systems, and Antora Energy, Activate offers selected fellows a unique blend of financial support, business capital, and access to a vast mentorship network. With hubs in Berkeley, Boston, New York, Houston, and a remote program, Activate nurtures the path from scientific discovery to entrepreneurial success.

    Cyrus recently joined Activate after stints in sustainability leadership roles at Amazon, Nike, and the White House. This extensive experience, combined with his PhD in energy and resources from UC Berkeley and chemistry degrees from MIT, equips him uniquely for this role.

    While the path from computer science to entrepreneurship is well-trodden, Activate champions the less common path from life sciences, chemistry, and physics to entrepreneurship. As we transition our energy systems, it seems inevitable that many new science-based businesses will become iconic industry-defining companies of the 21st century.  And for this to be realized, we need to nurture the pathway for scientist-entrepreneurs. Our MCJ venture funds have invested in multiple companies founded by Activate fellows, and we were eager to hear from Cyrus about Activate and his vision for where it's headed.

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • [03:49]: The gap Activate fills between academic research and commercialization
    • [05:44]: Transition challenges for scientists becoming entrepreneurs
    • [10:42]: The role of tech transfer offices and the gap in supporting hard tech entrepreneurship
    • [16:34]: Activate's unique approach in supporting fellows through licensing and entrepreneurship
    • [22:52]: The ideal Activate fellow: ready to jump into entrepreneurship head-first
    • [24:57]: Selection criteria for Activate fellows
    • [31:26]: Overview of Activate's program, including support and community involvement
    • [34:03]: Financial and strategic support provided to Activate fellows
    • [37:52]: Cyrus Wadia's background and journey to becoming CEO of Activate
    • [42:04]: Future directions and impact goals for Activate

    Episode recorded on Mar 6, 2024 (Published on May 30, 2024)

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    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    30 May 2024, 9:00 am
  • 44 minutes 56 seconds
    Startup Series: Unlocking Ammonia as Energy with Amogy

    Dr. Seonghoon Woo is CEO and co-founder at Amogy. Amogy is building technology to unlock ammonia's potential as a clean energy fuel source for transportation and beyond. About a year ago, they raised a Series B of funding led by SK Innovations, with backers including Temasek, Aramco Ventures, Mitsubishi, DCVC, Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Mitsui OSK Lines, and others.

    Ammonia is a workhorse chemical in modern society. It's one of the most produced chemicals in the world today, and it's used primarily as the foundation of the nitrogen fertilizer industry, as a transport vessel for nitrogen. Chemically, ammonia is NH3, so in addition to nitrogen, it contains hydrogen. And hydrogen as we know has a strong potential as a low to zero emissions fuel source, depending on how it's produced.

    But hydrogen is challenging to transport. Ammonia, therefore, also has the potential to be a transport vessel for hydrogen as a power source, and ammonia supply chains are already mature today. Amogy's unique innovation lies in cracking ammonia into hydrogen at the point of power generation and then powering vehicles via hydrogen fuel cells. They are targeting ocean shipping as most major companies seek solutions to decarbonize their supply chains.  

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • [02:21]: Dr. Woo’s background and journey to founding Amogy
    • [05:16]: Co-founder roles and decision-making at Amogy
    • [07:16]: The company’s impressive Series B funding round and key investors
    • [09:45]: Overview of Amogy and its technology: converting ammonia to energy
    • [11:14]: Importance of ammonia in global food production and fertilizer
    • [15:07]: Ammonia as a hydrogen carrier and its applications beyond fertilizer
    • [17:03]: Ammonia production processes, challenges of transportation and storage
    • [19:47]: Amogy’s innovation to use ammonia as a fuel without combustion
    • [24:35]: Ammonia compared with other renewable fuels like methanol and batteries
    • [29:21]: Process and efficiency of converting ammonia to hydrogen on ships
    • [31:32]: Safety considerations for storing and transporting ammonia on ships
    • [34:40]: Amogy’s current traction and building the world's first 100% ammonia-powered vessel, a tugboat
    • [38:57]: Where Amogy is looking for help today
    • [42:07]: Future expansion of ammonia adoption in East Asia and globally

    Episode recorded on May 9, 2024 (Published on May 23, 2024)

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    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    23 May 2024, 9:00 am
  • 1 hour 10 minutes
    Reframing Nuclear Narratives with the Breakthrough Institute

    Adam Stein is the Director of Nuclear Energy Innovation at the Breakthrough Institute, where he focuses on the technology, policy, risk and economics of nuclear energy. The Breakthrough Institute is a global research center that identifies and promotes technological solutions to environmental and human development challenges. Among its many projects, the Breakthrough Institute recently launched Build Nuclear Now, a national campaign to mobilize Americans in targeted states to call for regulatory and legislative change to accelerate the licensing and deployment of new, advanced nuclear reactors in the United States.

    Adam brings a pro-nuclear perspective to this conversation; and given that, Cody and Adam focus the majority of the discussion on the history of nuclear power in the US and potential paths forward, rather than debating the merits of nuclear (which could of course be a full episode by itself). Adam has a particular interest in advanced nuclear reactors, which represent a broad class of new technologies currently under development and review. This conversation covers these advanced reactors and so much more. 

    Episode recorded on Apr 15, 2024 (Published on May 13, 2024)

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • [02:39]: Launch of 'Build Nuclear Now' to boost public support for nuclear energy
    • [03:45]: Shift in public opinion on nuclear energy post-Three Mile Island incident
    • [05:03]: Contrast between post-WWII and current energy policies focusing on efficiency
    • [09:30]: Decline of nuclear energy due to increased natural gas from fracking
    • [10:48]: Challenges in revitalizing the stagnant US nuclear industry
    • [13:02]: Future projections for nuclear load growth by 2050  
    • [15:14]: Why renewables and storage alone cannot meet future energy demands
    • [19:39]: Additional benefits of nuclear energy
    • [21:33]: The role of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the need for reform
    • [25:00]: Challenges with traditional nuclear reactor approval processes 
    • [29:23]: Vogtle reactors and challenges for deploying nuclear plants in the US
    • [32:27]: The potential of advanced nuclear reactors and their smaller, adaptable designs
    • [39:32]: Strategic focus on Appalachia for repurposing coal plants for nuclear projects
    • [42:38]: Recent legislative efforts to modernize nuclear energy regulation and innovation
    • [52:12]: The process and challenges of nuclear fuel management, from enrichment to waste
    • [01:01:12]: National focus on nuclear innovation, highlighting Idaho's MARVEL reactor development
    • [01:05:31]: Role of the Breakthrough Institute in addressing and implementing solutions for nuclear energy barriers

    Get connected with MCJ: 

    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    13 May 2024, 9:00 am
  • 49 minutes 4 seconds
    Live from SF Climate Week with Senator Scott Wiener and Shashank Samala

    In today's episode, recorded live during San Francisco Climate Week, we delve into the critical intersection of climate policy and carbon removal. Joining us are two distinguished guests:  California Senator Scott Wiener, the author of the recent landmark climate legislation known as California's SB 253 or the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, and Shashank Samala, the CEO and Co-founder of Heirloom, a pioneering carbon removal company. Shashank was a previous guest on the show in 2021, and we're excited to have him back to weigh in on this important conversation. 

    Senator Wiener sheds light on the legislative landscape driving climate action, while Shashank offers insights into the  technologies transforming carbon removal. Together, we explore the convergence of policy and innovation, examining how regulatory frameworks catalyze the adoption and scaling of technological solutions. We pack a lot into this conversation, and we hope you enjoy it! 

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • [2:15] Senator Scott Wiener's background and personal climate journey
    • [6:04] Shashank's entrepreneurial background and transition to carbon removal
    • [8:38] An overview of Heirloom
    • [10:20] An overview of Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions
    • [12:59] SB 253, the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, authored by Senator Wiener
    • [17:46] California's cap and trade system
    • [20:22] The importance of carbon accounting and measurement, reporting and verification (MRV)
    • [25:32] How the Senator's team worked with startups to verify compliance challenges
    • [31:48] Heirloom's categories of carbon buyers
    • [34:25] SB 308, Carbon Market Development Act, authored by Senator Josh Becker
    • [36:17] The role of geography in carbon removals
    • [40:14] How startups can engage with local policymakers
    • [45:11] The benefit of representing San Francisco as a climate tech hub
    • [46:29] Senator Wiener's wishlist for climate policy, including dense housing and world-class public transportation
    • [47:06] Shashank's wishlist for climate policy, including SB 308

    Get connected with MCJ: 

    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    6 May 2024, 9:00 am
  • 1 hour 14 minutes
    Exploring NOAA with Chief Scientist Dr. Sarah Kapnick

    Dr. Sarah Kapnick serves as the Chief Scientist at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which plays a critical role in understanding and predicting changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts. Bringing a unique mix of science and finance to NOAA, Dr. Kapnick's background includes a stint as a senior climate scientist at JP Morgan Chase, a leadership role at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, and an early career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. She holds a PhD in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from UCLA and an AB in Mathematics from Princeton.

    In our conversation, Dr. Kapnick touches on a wide range of topics, including NOAA's extensive work, the importance of resilience and adaptation in today's changing climate, and the challenges of planning for a future that deviates from past assumptions of a stable climate. Highlighting NOAA's efforts in supporting community resilience and innovation, she underscores the agency's commitment to aiding stakeholders in navigating the complexities of our evolving environmental landscape, emphasizing the critical need for investment and focus on adaptation for the remainder of the 21st century.

    In this episode, we cover: 

    • [03:08]: An overview of NOAA and its departments, focusing on climate, weather, ocean, and coasts
    • [05:16]: The six line offices within NOAA, including the National Weather Service and Oceanic Research
    • [09:26]: NOAA's management of marine resources and the Great Lakes
    • [12:18]: How scientific priorities are set within NOAA, driven by mission and funding
    • [15:06]: Kapnick's background in climate science and finance
    • [20:23]: The intersection of climate change and finance
    • [22:45] The need for bipartisan support for resiliency and adaptation measures
    • [31:13]: NOAA's role in funding and supporting coastal resilience and climate-ready fisheries
    • [36:34]: NOAA's focus on adaptation and resilience in response to climate change
    • [48:19]: Opportunities for startup innovation and government funding in adaptation and resiliency
    • [54:00]: The state of the world's ocean and atmospheric circulation, including AMOC slowdown
    • [59:17]: Climate change impacts on the Midwest and the variability of the Great Lakes

    Episode recorded on Mar 13, 2024 (Published on Apr 15, 2024)

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    *If you liked this episode, please consider giving us a review! You can also reach us via email at [email protected], where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

    15 April 2024, 9:00 am
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