Notes from 2018 Climate Leadership Conference

Conference website:
I learned about this conference from the CLEAN Coalition.

My notes, and extra commentary in blue.
Word count: ~10k


      My unanswered research Q's for the energy sector:
      • As we better understand climate change, future weather volatility, and risks, we can update our weather-adjustment and forecasting methods. How can we go about commensurately reducing safety margins for "unknown unknowns" in electric power sector or other infrastructure systems?
      • As we retire coal power plants in the USA, what can we do to retrofit them into manufacturing plants for carbon fiber materials? e.g. graphene for batteries? Or carbon nano-tubes for other applications? 
        • Seriously, don't tell me we don't have enough coal refining processes already in place to leverage, that our engineers can't figure out how to make a few tweaks and start cranking out next-gen batteries so fast it'll make Elon Musk's gigafactory look like a watch battery.
      CHALLENGE to any reader
      • Go out of your way to engage a group that you find disagreeable or "offensive" -- in a positive (or at least neutral) way. E.g. show up to a public meeting, be nice, listen, and sincerely try to understand whatever they're talking about.

      Day 1

      Breakout Session - Heat waves
      Prompt 1: Have you or community/company already been thinking about climate risks?
      • Mike Seigal from Visa
        • Looking into data center citing & cooling
        • Engaging all the stakeholders
      • Rob Mitchell - Global CCS institute
        • What are impacts to other jurisdictions?
        • Identify if there's technologies to assess?
      • Emily Wasley -- The Cadimus Group LLC
        • Consulting services
        • Look at supply chains and prioritize
        • Offices around USA and Germany
      • Julie Saporito - Denver Residential Energy and Neighborhood Sustainability
        • Addressing urban heat island
        • Considering GHG inventory, vulnerability assessments, adaptation planning
      • Sweta Chakraborty - Serendipity Foundation
        • Military considering conditions for troops (e.g. south Africa)
        • Her personal work is about adaptation and relocation

      Prompt 2: Factors in decision making and prioritizing actions
      • Mike Seigal
        • Considering global footprint
        • How to run facilities in house without automation
        • People being onsite is part of the resilience plan
      • Robert Kay - ICF
        • California State government has created a new tool at
        • They're doing new work with the utilities

      • Building-based solutions
      • State of Denver is considering an ordinance for green roofs for buildings over 25k sq ft.
      • CEC will raise AC efficiency standards, but considering new standards at peak temperatures as well
      • Multi-family housing - shared wall and smaller spaces mitigate peak electricity demand
      • Some people are literally hosing off radiators, designing for 105 F now instead of 95 F
      • Metric: PUE - Power Usage Effectiveness, how you are tuning your buildings to operate at extremes
      • Undergrounding
      • Landscaping - west-side tree shading, urban canopies, less cement
      • County coordinates extreme heat through their health department, cool pavements, replanting
      • California adaptation forum

      Water capture & retention
      Enhanced storm water capacity
      Reduced impervious surface
      Land conservation (green space)
      Elevating structures
      Flood proofing
      Emergency planning

      Water efficiency, public engagement, public buy-in
      Work with people who have data or can get data
      Stakeholder buy-in

      Tools for monetizing co-benefits
      Closing thoughts
      Climate change poses risks AND opportunities
      Trying to standardize a methodology


      Carl Pope - Sierra Club, advisor to Bloomberg, etc. etc.
      • He got started when the EPA was first created
      • Made a change for the book for the Trump administration, changed title from "overheated" to "climate of hope" -- something optimistic.
      • We are retiring coal plants twice as fast now than we were in the period before the Trump administration
      • Everyone's numbers are getting bigger and bigger every year for electric vehicles
      • In EU 30% energy comes from RE
      • China just rolled out 16k electric busses
      • Etc. etc.
      • The world is moving towards a low carbon future
      • Projections are that oil demand will peak between 2030-2040
      • Not just driven by concerns about climate: people don't like asthma, pollution, dirty water, or paying unnecessarily high prices. Reasons to be optimistic!
      • Caveat, there are still existential threats, but we're getting a lot more of them under control
      • 3 tricks to get ourselves optimistic:
        1. Look at the leading indicators - Fossil fuel consumption, People are disinvesting in the supply chain (e.g. rail company letting coal cars die), Engineers are migrating from ICE R&D to electric R&D
        2. Utterly implausible is projected as certain - e.g. get used to $100/barrel of oil, by 2035 India would be spending 1/3 of GDP on imported oil (Not gonna happen)
        3. Look for the second derivative - fossil fuel consumption, rate of decrease of consumption, rate of rate of decrease. I.e. more sectors are picking up and we are accelerating the rate of decarburization. e.g. by 2065 we have a reasonable shot a getting our PPM back to current levels, focus on acceleration.
      • Corporations have CEOs, they're way overrated. CFOs can be really good or bad, CTOs frustrate everyone, CSO - chief sustainability officers, we're working on it, but we also need COOs (chief optimism officers) to say here's a pathway to something we can really get behind!
      • Q&A: "I appreciate rude questions, because they're much more enlightening" lol
      • Q: prospect for more robust action through state or regional actions.
      • A: It is a fundamental fact that nation states are sluggish. They're supposed to be. They maintain, they don't innovate or lead. Have to have bottom-up strategies for deep structural reasons… Nation states will defend the status quo.
      • Q: about 80% of NG is fracked, which is problematic, but on the other hand is taking coal out of business.
      • A: fracking is not the issue, the issue is too much production or too much drilling. NG could have been a useful transition fuel. Natural gas could have been quite helpful 20 years ago. Everyone knows how to produce better in the industry , Ted Turner did it, but the industry decided to lower standards. There was nothing wrong with nuclear power, there was a lot wrong with nuclear power industry, don’t make shortcuts and sacrifice quality for marginal profits. E.g. people are cooking on biomass who should be cooking on NG liquids.
      • Q: As we tighten up our own emissions, the issue of leakage is both an environmental and economic issue, putting workers at a disadvantage. Thoughts?
      • A: How many tons of carbon coming out? May get us a global carbon tax, or carbon pricing. e.g. $30/tonne.

      NREL president, Martin Keller
      • 2 pillars: Excellence in science & engineering, working with industry to bring this into the market
      • Increase in companies that want to work with them, e.g. Eaton microgrid, energy storage, and grid intelligence
      • Where are we and where do we need to go?
      • NREL boosting efficiency of solar over last 40 years
      • Logarithmic growth of solar over last decade (lol, logarithmic…)
      • Globally 75 GW of new PV installed in 2016
      • Cost of RE are competitive, and cheaper than fossil fuels
      • Beating coal in price
      • Goal: 50% of world's energy powered by RE by 2030
      • Problem: literally can't make them fast enough
      • Opportunity: new materials and new manufacturing processes driving down costs (e.g. hybrid Perovskite cells)
      • Wind: costs dropped by 90% since 2009, fast growing jobs, implementations are mostly in the middle of US, 99% in rural areas. Now limited by size, literally truck beds, train cars, and tunnels
      • Flexibility essential to maintaining balance (hourly, regulation, etc.etc. supply-side and demand-side)
      • Storage, batteries, solution not clear
      • Li_Ion cell cost status projected to $200 per kWh by 2020
      • But, what about carbon nanotubes and other new tech?
      • Issue with competing engineering constraints of density, size, (dis)charge rates
      • Alternative storage, e.g. hydrogen?
      • Freight problem: even though we're offseting CO2 emissions through electrification, the net emissions are still increasing. Need more innovation for the future!
      • Conversion technologies: e.g. Biocatalysis, electrocatalysis, hybrid electro. Good and need more!
      • Hybrid solar/biology process to drive N2 reduction
      • Optimizing energy systems across multiple pathways and scales: island/village, campus, community, city (now to 2030, 1MW to 1 GW)
      • We do NOT have all the technology today to solve all the problems. We're working on it, we're the world leader in innovation, we have to continue to drive.
      • My Q: <intro> Any thoughts on latest breakthrough carbon nano-tube alternative batteries and potential to solve problems presented?
      • A: It's complicated, e.g. Tesla wants high density small space, but grid applications may not prioritize size so much. So, he's not personally an expert, but he knows there's a lot of innovation coming out and I should send him my resume when I finish my PhD. Lol, okay, there was an NREL manager at my table and we chatted for a bit. Apparently they're trying to do very similar work at LADWP as the project I'm currently on at CEC. Also, I'd be happy to go to South Korea / Samsung HQ for 3-6 months after graduation and learn about batteries if anyone wants to make that happen. >.>
      • Q: NREL summary of only wind and solar potential for entire USA and cost of that? Have you shared our RE potential with utility regulators as well governor and mayor associations?
      • A: See our website for our reports. Lots of potential. Los Angeles is doing a lot of great work. Can't answer this question by itself, have to consider EVs and storage as well.

      Plenary Panel: Denver's Clean Energy Economy
      1. Michael Hancock (Mayor of Denver), 2. David Eves (President Xcel Energy), 3. Bob Perciasepe (President C2ES)

      1. Most cities that you're going to go to, the Mayors believe in science. Lots of partnerships with private sector for GHG reductions, EE and grid modernization.

      3. What's the CO energy plan coming out?
      2. Brought forth with diverse parties. Plan to PUC to take bigger step in resource planning. 55% RE by 2025. 60% reduction in CO2 from 1990 levels. Need to retire a lot more coal early. Add max solar, wind, and gas for reliability. We believe we can do that at a lower cost. Plan is tied to replacing coal plants and save customers money. Very wide variety of stakeholders behind the plan.
      1. Working with Panasonic as an enterprise solution HQ partner. We will build one of the smartest innovation producing efforts. It is a lab where they will test a lot of technologies. Denver will be a pilot for smart traffic signals, smart street lighting, smart AVs.
      2. Denver, airport, Panasonic, batteries, microgrids (2MW batt for backup, stability, voltage regulation, contingency), we have cheap energy here so we need to make batteries capture a lot of the value, we're learning a lot.
      3. Tell me about the energy future plan.
      2. It's about clean energy, customer choice, changes to the grid, price signals, moving towards a more resilient and secure grid, while enabling more customer choice. Creating an energy network.
      3. We've talked a lot about utility scale RE, ….?
      2. Large scale is more efficient and cost effective, but customers want the option to have it on their house
      3. What are the ingredients of success for a PPP?
      2. starts with understanding each other's vision and the compatibility of those visions and objectives. Seeing that there's opportunity for both of us to jointly accomplish those objectives better. To go further and be effective, we need to have a set of shared principles. We won't be able to provide all solutions, we'll serve neighboring cities with different objectives. Having a clear understanding of common objectives makes it very easy to go forward.
      1. We're trying to improve every day, but it doesn't work if we don’t have a partner with shared goals. Because we have that space of shared goals, David tells us no sometimes, and he's great at telling us no. If you don't have that then you don't get to where you need to go. We're not only your partner, we're your cheerleader and technical advisor.
      3. Decarbonizing the grid on the demand side? Reduced demand? Increased efficiency? Vehicle electrification?
      2. Obviously the cleanest and cheapest kWh is the one that's never used. Modernization is exciting, but we still have to keep working on conservation. Colorado has avoided about 4 power plants because of that. Denver is growing fast, but our energy consumption is staying flat because of our programs. Electric power is now #2 next to vehicles as #1 emitter of CO2.
      1. We want a balanced approach. We want to continue to see economic growth. It has to be about what people want.

      Douglas Sabo, Visa - VP, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Philanthropy
      • Reduced GHGs every year, lots of LEED certification
      • But we can't EE our way to zero
      • Today, Visa made a purchase, Visa will transition to 100% RE by end of 2019
      • 4 locations in particular: CO, VA, London, and SF Bay (over 80% of our energy usage)
      • Looking for local long-term investments
      • Joined RMI and corporate buyers principles to be able to help next wave of companies
      • We believe this is good business for us, our employees, our clients, and investors who all ask us about our strategies
      • We recognize and embrace that there's hard work ahead of us.

      Morning Plenary
      Mod: Dan Firger - Environment Program, Bloomberg Philanthropies
      Dirk Forrister - President CEO International Emissions Trading Association
      David Hayes - Executive Director, State Energy and Environmental Impacts Center NYU
      David Kang - Vice Chancellor for Infrastructure and Sustainability UC Boulder


      Mod: Where do you see opportunities in real world to contribute to Paris Agreement?
      Forrister: Business needs frameworks to deploy. Paris gives a big overreaching framework, but…. Back in the Clinton administration there were no solutions in sight. […]
      Mod: plug, Talk about issues we're grappling with regarding rewriting rules for renewables
      Hayes: grid is typically regulated by state sponsored utilities. Many businesses in this room are demanding a seat at this table. When Google, Walmart, etc say they want 100% RE, why can't they get it -- in certain states. And so that's changing the game. But it's taking too long. There's an opportunity to have more of a national conversation. Utilities services have changed since 100 years ago. They were designed to be non-competitive, but now we're seeing the benefits of competition and innovation. So, want to see success stories of AGs.

      Q: Anne McKay of climate registry. Linking regional and other trading programs amongst countries?
      Forrister: There's California Quebeck one, that brings a lot of metrics together into a common registry. These types of opt in joint monitoring and verification systems are great, there's another approach which is treaties and MOUs. Paris agreement provides accounting standards.

      Mod: Across all the actors we've been discussing. The secretary of state is supposed to be the diplomat, but we don't seem to have one who wants to talk about our issues. What's universities' roles in this space?
      Kang: Advantage as a University is our perception as a neutral party, we're facts and data driven, we work with engineering companies and VC. That's what we've been doing for hundreds of years. If we can tie that with the power of industry then we can build it out. We are solving technical problems, identifying policy issues, and modeling outcomes. So, our institutes can model what this would mean for the world if solutions were implemented at scale.

      Janet Peace - Senior VP, Policy and Business Strategy, C2ES
      Jay Harf - VP Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability, L'Oreal Operations Americas Zone
      Danielle Azoulay - Head of CSR & Sustainability, L'Oreal USA
      • Over 20M sq ft of operations will be carbon neutral by 2019
      • Getting rid of the scope 1 emissions was the first step, scope 2 much harder
      • "Be bold. If you had all the money in the world, what would the solution be?" (not literal! But be agile, and think without limits)
      • Approach:
        1. Not only offsets
        2. Investment in renewable energy projects
        3. Local (positive community impacts)
        4. Achieves additionally
        5. Financial advantage
      • Options
        1. Anaerobic Digester
        2. Carbon offsetting (didn't like that)
        3. Landfill Biogas (winner!)
      • Purchasing renewable NG from KY ~100 miles south east of a factory
      • The solution
        • Scalability of directed biogas
        • Financially Viable
        • Underutilized source of renewable energy

      Mod: Operations in 12 states, why'd you pick Kentucky?
      A: We're not trying to make a political statement, we have 400 employees there, it's our biggest plant in the world, we love the state, it's just a win-win
      Mod: When we think of a beauty company, you don't think about NG plant…
      A: When you go to Paris, you say biogas, everyone cheers, but then you get into details and there's a problem, then we explain how and why and participation with the NG commodities market and now they're fully on-board!
      Mod: Advice for other companies?
      A: every company's different. This is just a nice example. And yes, it is financially positive.

      Q: How do you make LFG competitive with NG so cheap right now?
      A: We like this project because it gives us future options (Scope 3 emissions, transportation fleet, etc.). We're hoping to break even in the market now. Our management team is agile and risk taking, and our CEO backed us on the risk taking.

      Q: What does it take from the LFG to …
      A: it's a complicated technical process, but short answer is membrane technology.

      Q: Vulnerability assessment on plant? Are you also enhancing resilience to extreme weather events?
      A: No, that's probably a next step.

      Wayne Balta - IBM,VP for Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety
      • What's IBM been doing and why?
      • IBM's been in business since 1911, and has reinvented itself many times
      • From cheese slicers, to computers, to services, to cloud cognitive solutions
      • Corporate responsibility has not changed. We serve our interests best when we serve the public's interest.
      • Responsibility regarding climate change is a part of that.
      • A few milestones:
        • 1990 - first annual voluntary corporate environmental responsibility report
        • 1992 charter member of EPA's Energy Star program (just computers and monitors at the beginning)
        • 1997 launched Energy Star
        • Today there are over 75 types of E-star
        • 2000 - co created World Wildlife Fund
        • Green power market development group
        • 2007 - published position, CC is a serious concern that… believes all sectors of society, commerce, and government must participate…
      • Do not rely on RECs
      • Addressing climate change requires action by all, companies everywhere must build their own capabilities, accountability and action are best driven by deterministic data.
      • IBM expressed support for US to remain a part of Paris agreement.
      • He's gotten his results in IBM without any coercion and no internal penalties
      • A culture of corporate responsibility
      • CEO who's first to not be internal: In 2001 I probably would have said culture is an important part of a company, but now I'll say it's the whole game.
      • An organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.
      • It's the diverse people across 75 countries who perform the work, that we call IBM. Diversity inclusion is part of corporate responsibility.
      • Close with short video about diversity, and how IBM's been a leader in that.
      • Q&A: IBM has principles published for use of data and algorithms. With social media everyone is a journalist, lots of people have blogs, so be careful with how you consume information and consider the source.
      This is hugely important. Weapons of mass distraction. Dumbing garbage in your head. Etc. etc. Contributes to poor state of mind, been there!

      Breakout session: Advancing Climate Strategies
      Emerging Trends in Climate Risk Disclosure and Management
      Marisa Buchanan - ED, Sustainable Finance, JP MorganChase
      Malcom Fawcett - Director, Climate Change, Conoco-Phillips
      Dan Firger - Environment Program, Bloomberg Philanthropies
      Avi Garbow - Partner, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

      Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

      Garbow -Lots of voluntary reporting mechanisms coming together.  In many ways the most important question is WHAT do you report? (for your company or organization)

      Fawcett - we've been a leader in disclosure for a long time. We can describe all the way down to our operations level. We have a CC action plan that we report against. We have a comprehensive system from managing our risks. If you don't have an adequate information management system, then you're asking for the impossible. It will take some time before we see adequate disclosure across the board. We have 4 areas of voluntary reporting: Gov, risk mgmt, strategy, and disclosure. We have scenarios for our general overall strategy. There's millions of ways to get to 2 degrees. Choosing just one reference case is actually a misuse of scenario analysis. Would miss-inform investors. Scenarios are not meant to be used as a prediction or a forecast. In the common scenarios renewablels win, but if you're a uranium miner, or you're a coal miner and you have a breakthrough in CCS, then etc etc. Cherry picking your scenarios and references cases doesn't give you good insight into risk! True that. Collaboration is the key to aligned implementation of the TCFD recommendations. Can I get an amen!? We want to avoid lots of mini-TCFDs being set up by consultants and such who are replaying the same arguments and arriving at slight different places, resulting in a complete mishmash (inconsistency) of reporting. Slam dunk.

      Buchanan - Mission is to embed sustainability into the way that we do business. Worry that sometimes we drink our own koolaid too much. Anecdotally, ~50% of people were not aware of the TCFD at all, or did not think it added value to their voluntary reporting standards. We have clients with GHGs, etc. As a large institution we're interested in doing TCFD. One of the reasons it formed was to streamline and make disclosures more efficient especially for the financial industry. Materiality is often in the eye of the beholder. Materiality, in addition, also has to be considered with other factors. Lots of people say CC is not currently material, but could be, but it's not driving the bottom line -- right now. GHGs measure a company's contribution to CC, but doesn't measure risk, or a company's risk. So, as this space evolves, we shouldn't want to over-focus on things just because we can measure them. THANK YOU! We want to pay attention to actual outcomes. YES! This is an opportunity to have a dialogue about a strategic process. False precision is not helpful.

      Firger - more high-level background on TCFD, comments:

      Fawcett - TCFD This is a framework, not a standard. Considerations, not mandates. This is not going to replace surveys. TCFD recommendations are going into CDP survey. I also have to decide which things to put into the 10K and the sustainability report. Different stakeholders read different reports. We have increased reporting.

      Buchanan - Investors, also have to deal with an onslought of information. More is not always better. More can sometimes make it harder to find relevant information. Q to self, is this contributing to shareholder value? Sometimes too much focus on disclosure, and not enough focus on actually doing the work. Zing!

      Firger - Our goal with the TCFD was to develop a framework set of voluntary recommendations (not a standard), we're not lobbying, but these things are being discussed. Thoughts on how to think about the shift from voluntary to mandatory?

      Garbow: government reporting, new things are being considered material, and getting new places in SCC or other filings. Many stakeholders have failed to ramp up their game in considering where this issue affects financial performance and operations. i.e. not taking this seriously. There's a proliferation of voluntary reporting, frameworks, etc. Other countries talking about imposing requirements. We're in a global market now. What you put out in one context gets read in another. You need to understand that if you're going to embark on a climate risk assessment in one place, you should be thinking about (regardless of regulations) is this consistent with how other people are approaching this problem in other places. Takes a lot of diligence and hard work. But is a focusing strategy that will serve folks well. Yes, do your lit review, and contextualize your work in your intro and/or discussion of your results!

      Audience Q: What does collaboration look like?

      Fawcett: Oil companies, in particular, have a long history of collaborating on risk. E.g. IPEKA, represents about 60% of world-wide oil and gas production. We've put together a number of papers, e.g. Paris Puzzle before COP 21 about policy barriers to overcome in the energy market. After Paris we put together a response welcoming the Paris Agreement and providing low-emissions pathways recommendations to overcome barriers. The oil and gas industry wants to play a part in the solution. Not just be a part of the problem. Looking for opportunities to talk to investors and such, and we bring a lot of skills, great finance, technology, project management, etc. We're one of the best places to help solve the problem.

      Buchanan: TCFD is focused on working with other groups, other industries, etc. JP Morgan has been working with consultants to dig into scenario analysis. Companies and investors can collaborate, just sit down with your own shareholder base and what they would find useful, current reporting, etc.

      Audience Q: To what extent do you see a focus on CC risk in terms of disclosure.
      Fawcett: Companies talk about risk to facilities, but that's not enough. E.g. Hurricane Harvey. Our building HQ is right next to the damn. The building was fine, but all the roads around it were flooded.
      Buchanan: how to incorporate into supply chain risk? Don't have to always invent something new, can often just update an existing process. Indeed!

      Audience Q: 50/50 climate project, political spending exacerbating climate risk, if company is funding activity that impedes Paris targets, have you focused on political spending? Thoughts?
      Garbow: No, attenuation can be an issue

      Lunch plenaries
      Kim Jordan - co-founder of new Belgium brewing
      I was eating, see my Tweet where several of us couldn't help ourselves and interrupted the speaker with applause on tfhe point that roads are not just for cars. =)

      John Hickenlooper - Governor of Colorado
      • Biggest CC issues: snowpack and reservoirs
      • We should love space and be stewards of our places.
      • We were the first state to have methane regulations.
      • We brought together oil and gas industries. There were a couple times were people walked out of the room, but we brought them together.
      • We announced the electric vehicle corridor with 8 states last year (6 of which are republican).
      • There are more live music venues in Denver than Austin or … LOL =)
      • Closing coal plants, and in doing so lowering costs, cleaning air, and maintaining reliability.
      • Considering watersheds, reducing wild fires, etc. etc.
      • Looking at different constituencies that have not been historically successfully organized. E.g. retailers, outdoor recreation industry… got people working together on non-partisan clean air, clean water, public land use
      • Framework for 4 things: Economic development, stewardship, education, public health & wellness
      • Governors are very competitive, so, who's speaking up for clean air?
      • Comparison: NRA has 5-6 million members, REI has 15-16 million. What are they doing? How do we help them get organized.
      • Why do we have the resistance to climate change science that we do?
        • I'm probably the only professional (MS) geologist elected governor in the USA
        • Hypothesis: because people are getting left behind economically, and they think more changes are going to continue to leave them behind economically.
        • Options: fed is working on low-income tax credits, and governors can do the same too. For small companies that stay in their census track for 5-10 years, no capital gains tax! Should be really motivating for entrepreneurs to go expand into new areas.

      I'll add also, the politicization of CC as an exclusively Dem. value. The obnoxious warlord/lawyerly/divisive/factioning approach of "you're either you're with us or against us." And associating with all the other irate nonsense from the left in the 2016 election in the totally 1-sided MSM. Also, the obnoxious association of science with atheism. Read the book, that's not what he said! No wonder CC discourse turned into questions of "believing" in science, or "believing" in CC, and we have the PR/perception mess on our hands that we do. What is there to "believe" in? that pollution is bad for the ecosystem, and subsequently human health? Or certain special interest groups' 1-size fits all approach to dealing with it? -_- What happened to Najavo!? Are you kidding me!? After all that to reduce emissions by 80%, and we just shut it down!? Dems wanted to demonize coal so bad, "beyond coal," shut it all down, well congrats. And people say I'm the one who's bad at diplomacy. >.> I've been on the front lines fighting this garbage, trying to bring people together on CC, over, and over, and over again, while also doing actual innovative science/engineering work to help the world better understand the problem-space and -- wait for it -- actually solve tangible problems! I could be crushing wall-street with other stats geniuses, or leading protests with other "underprivileged minorities", or moping and playing video games like other ignored young men, but here I am instead -- taking personal responsibility. You know why? Because life is long, and wouldn't it be nice if we could actually stay ahead of our CC problems, keep the peace, and start colonizing space in our lifetimes? Let's not make that mistake again come 2020, 2024, and so on please. =)

      Q: What's CO doing about electric cars/infrastructure?
      A: States don’t control that, but we do have influence. We can make highways safer and more fuel efficient. EVs and AVs will not be in lockstep, but they're coming out pretty close to each other. Remember elevators. We invented steel, tall buildings, and so elevators. But the early versions were death traps. There had to be a manned elevator operator in each one people were so terrified. It wasn't until 15 years after the invention of automated elevators that people finally used them due to an elevator operator strike in NYC. Wow, what a great anecdote!
      Q: Next wave for CO?
      A: We are! We want to work on ways to reduce costs per person and increase value. E.g. Tim Ryan in Ohio
      I'm kind of an entrepreneur genetically, but somehow I got into this job… God really loves ordinary people, because look how many he made! (hahaha) But seriously, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things, we want to think about how we can help more do the same.

      Q: States are facing infrastructure challenges, normally look to fed, but fed recently released $1.7 T infrastructure plan, with vague or no references to CC. How do you do this in state?
      A: CC plans should be completely non-partisan. *applause* Denver has become a magnet for young people. When I was elected in 2003, I said Denver is going to make no decision unless it also benefits the suburbs. Lots of feuding. In the restaurant and bar business we know there's no margin to having enemies. We had all 34 Mayors unanimously supporting a tax plan to clean our air and support future growth. When I ask young people why they chose to come to Denver, it's more than transit, and legal pot. (hahaha) Clean buses are coming and they're going to be great. The federal gov now can't raise the money to do the investments they should do, so ultimately it's going to be more states. We've got to raise our ability to do collaboration.


      Navigating Climate & Energy Policy
      Realizing the Value Proposition for Clean Energy Communities
      Kevin Bryan - senior policy director, keystone institute (Moderator)
      Kraig Westerbeek - Senior Director of Smithfield Renewables and hog Production Division Environmental Affairs, Smithfield Foods
      Antonia Graham - energy and sustainability manager, city of Huntington Beach
      Leo Raudys - Adjunct Professor, University of Minnesota
      Aura Vasquez - Commissioner, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

      Leo Raudys - ~170k people employed by coal mining before, now it's ~50k. Don't think about industry, think about people. There's a lot of institutional infrastructure in these small mining towns (supporting industries / commerce / jobs). Externalities are challenging for all of us. The cost of re-developing coal country as we move away from coal is probably on the order of tens of billions of dollars. The private sector has largely not been involved in these issues. I think there's a level of obligation for the industry that's enabled everyone else. The uncomfortable truth is that coal cities are there because society wanted them there. Two specific suggestions for anyone who thinks this is an issue worth worrying about (1) see UNSDGs Think about poverty, opportunity, and climate risk. (2) on the talent side, see (e.g. Apple, FB), look for alignments between human capital and geographic strategies. What can we do that can align with our business value and create some social goodwill?

      Antonia Graham - How to be a more sustainable community in very conservative Orange County. We're lucky because we're an affluent county. Low income is $80k / year. Oak View, is dense ~10k people in 1 square mile, was known as the slums. They won a grant for advanced energy community with CEC, NREL, SCE, etc. By improving the building stock we're able to make a connection. Low-income people tend not to be worried about CC, because they're worried about putting food on the table. Grad students have workforce development component. We are making an impact. Community feels engaged and valued. We hear a lot about story-telling, you have to make it personal.
      I remember when I lived in LA, going to some local meeting, and an attendee bringing up the point that water quality was ignored in some low-income areas. E.g. open reservoirs, and bird droppings in the water supply.

      Kevin Bryan - Smithfield farming carbon footprint. 32% is manure management. Working with environmental defense fund. As of 2017 we've engaged over 400k acres.

      Aura Vasquez - LADWP is largest POU in country, serve about 4 million people. CA takes pride in being environmental stewards. Her background has mostly been on divestment from fossil fuel (We actually met each other at a Sierra Club meeting back when I lived in LA and worked for PwC). There are people dying in Los Angeles because of pollution. She's been working on this issue since she was 11 years old in Columbia. Almost 30 years later, she's still talking about the same thing. Partnering with NREL to get to 100% RE, bringing jobs, and improving reliability. Last year there was a blackout, and someone died. It's been a conflict for her to bring the region beyond coal, but also see job losses in places like Najavo Nation. No kidding! I was so -- not happy -- when I heard about that. After everything we went through to get agreement on the retrofitting plan to reduce emissions by 80% at Navajo, and then they just shut the whole thing down! Come onnnn... Sometimes good intentions is not enough. Sometimes we develop policies that we think are best, but they also have unintended consequences. We put out a rebate for solar, but turned out people who needed it the most didn't live in places with the right types of roofs and didn't have the right mechanisms, and in the end low-income people wound up subsidizing more affluent people. We created a program that was equal, but it wasn't equitable. It's not easy to see. Since then, we've created an equity metric that looks at 18 factors to try and make sure this doesn't happen again.

      Breakout strategy session with NREL - Setting data-based targets - Accessing and using data to enable more

      Debbie Brodt, NREL -Giles, Data science and innovation group manager

      Jenny Peter - senior analyst, focus on policy side. Data, tracking voluntary market for renewable energy.
      Colleague Eagan Day manages cities leadership program. Helps policy planning, residential or non. Data warehouse for energy planning. Covers electricity, NG, and vehicles.

      Jake Elder - Bloomberg Associates, probono services to Mayors and their leadership teams. Working on rebuilding grid, GHG projects, etc etc. how to better use data to make better decisions.

      Tom Doyle - RMI, PM office. Looking for opportunities for EV grid data. Looking for placement of electric chargers. Want VMT data.  I recommended contacting Google earth and maps teams. We discussed this exact issue in breakout sessions 3 years ago, and they have valuable data they may be able to share. Google, expect a call from him, you're welcome. ;-)

      Dave Coockson, Sewani liberal arts school in Tenesssee, Sustainability manager. They own 13k acres. They could go carbon neutral with sequestration tomorrow, but would rather come up with a better strategy. He'll be rewriting their carbon action plan. We checked out the tools below for his region.

      Daniel Burillo - that's me!

      NREL's putting together the Cities-Leap tool:

      Dave Q: what's the advantage of using NREL over a consulting firm?
      A: NREL's pretty unbiased, neutral, and we have access to a ton of data and resources. Kind of like a University, but better. We also have lots of cutting-edge 3D modeling and visualization capabilities.

      Jake Q: Helping Tennessee look through development options. There's back and forth between community scale versus rooftop. Didn't have a good real-time resource to vet the cost models for the rooftop solar.
      A: See our SAM System Advisor Model tool, and PV-watts tool (lets you draw your rooftop)

      Q: Cost differences between roof and ground, does it factor in transmission?
      Me: clarify what's meant by this, and no, not yet, that's what current research is doing (e.g. our work at ASU)

      …Tools they're developing are more programmatic for DOE. Training program for city & county staff for implementation for municipal buildings. 57 cities and counties across the county.

      …NREL's doing a lot more outward business development (because a lot of it's been coming from DOE), interfacing with cities and localities directly (e.g. LADWP project).

      Q: Considering revisions for net metering projects, cost/price models?
      A: we've got a proposal in to develop it. PUC gets data from the utilities. Doing work for low-income solar adoption.

      My Q: Talk to me about the duck curve, and storage
      A: 10 people working on it, integration studies, work for CA, solar and EV penetrations "Aaron Bloom" Lead PI on most of that work
      A: efforts to expand CA ISO into neighboring states, or create an RTO
      A: Western EIM (energy imbalance market)

      Q: EV space?
      A: alternative fuels station locator tool. Joanna Levine.

      Q: Think the market demand is driving us away from where we want to be. So goal is to develop proactive programs. We're over range anxiety now, but we need to be able to charge in other locations besides home and work.
      What can we do to reduce the risk of unused infrastructure?
      My A: Make sure planning philosophy includes asymmetric risk/reward principles. Define the problem in a way so that if & when we're wrong, it's okay. =)

      Dinner Plenary
      Bob Perciasepe - President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
      Gina McCarthy - Former Administration US EPA, Professor of Practice of Public Health, Harvard

      Here to recognize all the leaders that have stepped up on climate. You represent all the values.
      Q: Gina, what do you think about the fact that we've withdrawn from Paris and the CPP has been repealed?
      A: Pissa. Get over it. Actually, that hasn't happened.
      It's a misread of the USA, of what we care about, our values, …

      *She's really animated and funny, in a Boston way, and says a lot of obvious things about how the world is changing*

      We need to stop talking to people about the health of the planet, the planet will be fine, our kids and grandkids won't.

      It's great to see the business community, and businesses taking a stand to say what their values are.
      We have to do it ourselves.

      An issue like CC takes more than the federal government.
      We need our values translated into our government and how our government operates.

      When young people ask me what they can do, I say, you can vote, and you can be an active citizen, and you can speak about what you think the world ought to look like, vote with your dollars, and engage your communities. Amen.

      We are not a gov defined by DC, we are of, for, and by the people.

      Thank you, for sharing the values that make this country great.

      If you don't think that individuals can make a difference, you haven't been paying attention to history.
      Everything in the environment started at the grass roots and moved its way up.

      Day 3
      Panel: Building Climate Resilience
      Kit Batten, Corporate sustainability, climate resilience chief, PG&E
      Beth Chacon, Grid Storage & Emerging Technologies, Xcel Energy
      Wendy Moser, Commissioner; Colorado Public Utilites Commission
      Craig Zamuda, Senior Policy Advisor, DOE

      Craig Zamuda

      Seeing an increase in billion dollar damage storm events

      All Regions of US Energy System vulnerable to extreme weather
      • Lower water levels - reduced hydropower
      • Wildfires: damaged transmission lines
      • Flooding: impacts on inland power
      • Water restrictions due to drought: limiting power, oil and gas production
      • Cooling water intake or discharge too hot: power plants shutdown or power down
      • I've researched this extensively, and this is actually only an issue for once-through cooling plants, and only an issue due to emissions regulations of how high the outlet water temperature can be. These plants are generally being retired. See the SI of my first pub for more details.
      • Intense storms: disrupted generation, transmission and distribution, and oil and gas operations
      • Lower river levels: restricted barge transportation of coal and petroleum productions

      Resilience Investment options
      • Smart grid
      • Flood protection: beams, levees, floodwalls, substation controls
      • Wind protection: undergrounding
      • Modernization: censors and controls, databases, SCADA redundancies
      • General…
      • Coordinating response…

      Key Gaps and Opportunities
      • Develop and implement design standards for resilience and metrics for measuring process (don't have either of these yet) Workin' on it.
      • Develop and deploy cost-effective affordable, clean reliable and resilient energy technologies
      • Incentivize utilities, customers and society to invest in enhancing energy system resilience - both reactively (e.g., storm recovery) and proactively to prevent or reduce damages and costs. Read our paper this summer.

      Wendy Moser
      • Discloser: I'm a hiker, and so interest in regulating utilities and impacts on climate and our state as a whole.
      • Colorado has 3 major rivers, that all start in the Rockies. By and large we are a desert state though. So, when we have low snow pack, that's bad for fun, bad for tourism, and bad for our water supply!
      • Denver proper ~500k, Denver metro ~4M people. Water rights have changed, the landscape has changed, we've lost agg.
      • What used to be NG for the home, is now backup for the grid.
      • In CO we don’t have a lot of floods but they're devastating when they do happen.
      • Most of our power outages are due to wind, ice, and snow, and faster if there's tree limbs in there too.
      • Next, is fires, high risk, high occurrence. 14.5 M acres of national forest. 2 infestations: mountain pine and spruce beetle. Dead trees are dry trees, result in fires. Trees fall and take out lines
      • We coordinate with several other agencies, DHS, FBI, etc.

      Kit Batten
      • PG&E, services ~2/3 of NorCal
      • 7.7 GW of owned gen capacity, ~70% GHG free
      • New Mission: To safely and reliably deliver affordable and clean energy to our customers and communities every single day, while building the energy network of tomorrow
      • Vision: …
      • This is helping a lot to do my job!
      • Climate Risk Assessment
        • Sea-level rise, 7-24" by 2050 in SF
        • Extreme heat events, had 109 F in SF for a few days last year, unheard of, impacting CDD and HDD
        • Inconsistent and extreme precipitation. 180% of average, 60% of average, 20% of snowpack
        • Wildfires, 40% of state land is at high risk
      • Risk Assessment Mitigation Plan (RAMP), now required before PUC fillings
        • 2 time periods and 2 climate scenarios (near and long-term, low GHG, high GHG - default)
        • 22 chapters in filling
        • 6 climate drivers
        • 11 Model Inputs, RAMP risks
        • Using Cal-Adapt tool
      • Results
        • Exacerbates a number of top safety risks
        • Increased emergency response, more VMT, potentially more vehicle accidents
        • 3-13% increase in collisions, and ## fatalities
      • Activities
        • Engagement with the State
        • Collaboration with Communities
        • Building More Resilient Operations
        • Investing in resilience grants, 2018 focusing on extreme heat events

      Beth Chacon

      • Pena station battery storage system
        • Partnership with Panasonic & City of Denver
        • 1-2 MWh Li-Ion Battery
        • 1.3 MW carport PV + 250 kW (net-metered) Rooftop PV
        • Microgrid pilot study - voltage regulation, peak demand, duck curve, arbitrage, frequency response

      Thanks DOE for partnership, and partner IOUs, MOUs

      Closing Plenary
      Bob Keefe - Executive Director, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)

      Estimates: 3 million people working in clean energy in America. EE, solar, wind, vehicles, other
      Fastest growing jobs in America - wind turbine technician and installer.

      2018 initiative, "Clean jobs count!"
      Going to Washington to talk to politicians on our behalf on clean energy and climate policy; it's important that we tell the story of economics and jobs. It needs to be in the forefront.

      Email him at to get on list for updates


      Gerry Anderson, Chairman & CEO DTE Energy
      Bob Perciasepe, President, C2ES

      Bob: DTE was one of first…
      Gerry: I was trying to forge consensus in our industry on the Clean Power Plan (CPP). As you can imagine with 50 states, we did ultimately come to consensus. We dove into the economics and engineering that would be necessary for lower carbon. Which was different than 8 years ago when we were looking at Waxman-Markey. We approached from an angle of responsibility first, then engineering/econ second. Can't just do this stuff in our (CEOs) retirements, need to find a way to do this in our main careers.
      Bob: A lot of work, obviously not unanimous, but you got your goal 3-4 months after the Presidential election
      Gerry: Yes, it became clear that the CPP was going to be shelved, which was disappointing, but we came out and told people in May of last year what we thought was the right thing to do economically and environmentally.
      Bob: How was that received in your territories?
      Gerry: Well, we didn't just blurt it out, we spent a lot of time thinking about community engagement plan. Met with politicians, civic leaders, investors, etc. Then when we finally made our public statement, it was very well received, we got a lot of positive press. Dems we're already onboard, Reps said, okay businesses can move without mandates. A lot of investors said they were glad personally and professionally that we did what we did.
      Bob: yes, we're used to seeing investors just thinking about 90-days, but it's good to hear you say that more industry analysts are thinking more long-term.
      Bob: What helped your team think this though at a technical level?
      Gerry: We did a lot of modeling. Econ & Engineering. Got to NG as a backfill for reliability. 45% GHG reductions by 2030. 85% by 2050. We committed to more than what's in the CPP. We got the numbers to work with a portfolio of RE, NG, and Nuclear. We try to predict ~20 years out, we know the plan is going to change, technology changes, but technology is changing in a direction that's going to make this easier not harder. Our engineers are relentless. But you can't do this willy-nilly or you're going to get rate spikes. And that's bad, you hurt your rate-payers, so we try to do this as "invisibly" as possible -- from the perspective of the ratepayer's bill.
      Bob: yes, it's like a hot car that you love, but by the 3rd time you have to rebuild the transmission it's time to move on
      Gerry: yes, we shut down a couple plants that have had significant damage to critical components.
      Bob: The CPP facilitated and encouraged inter-state coordination, and inter-company cooperation across the grid. I never had a doubt about getting to the levels, but facilitating the coordination was great. What do you see as the future of that kind of coordination even in the absence of a federal framework?
      Gerry: Optimistic. Even companies with a lot of coal infrastructure are in a very similar situation as we were in. CEOs talk to each other. Companies are doing the same thing. It's good business. Our customers and our investors WANT us to do this. The economics work. It's an opportunity. We're going to be in a weird position, where the electricity sector's picking up speed and probably going to move faster than our critics would say because we're doing it without mandates. #'Murica
      Bob: How do you see the technology progressing with the auto industry and EVs?
      Gerry: It's a lot like renewables a decade ago. Oil is going to be displaced, it's going to happen. It's just a matter of time. There's no margins right now. Batteries are too expensive, but they're coming down. We all know it. It's just a matter of timing. Perspectives: it's going to happen fastest in China bc China will make it happen with strict policy mandates. China will likely be 30% of new vehicles by 2030, but low-end vehicles, EU will be higher end vehicles first, USA depends on CAFE standards, expecting new vehicle sales to be 10-20% EV or PHEV by 2030. Have a son at McKinsey, who's on a project to find out how fast oil consumption is going to fall because of this.

      Q: How are you handling stranded costs of coal?
      A: It's actually pretty low because of their costs. We've worked it out with the regulators to blend it through over time and it's not an issue for us. Well, I still want to explore converting them into carbon-fiber battery manufacturing plants, but if that's not possible, then okay, got it, "blend it through over time".

      Q: Storage as part of the 2040 solution, how did that factor into econ & how do you see next 5 years?
      A: Industry is having a very "sloppy" discussion about storage. Batteries are falling in cost, in some cases will be implemented with mandates, or where it just makes sense, e.g., constrained substations. We're going to backfill our coal with about 1/2 & 1/2 RE and NG. Batteries just don't work right now. Issue is not just a couple hour shift of solar PV, but a seasonal shift of wind from spring to late summer -- and that's a big deal. Yes it is! I did not know that! Gas assets to help us with seasonal shifts will exist for a long time (2050's).

      I didn't get to ask from the audience, but I caught him on his way out
      My Q: As we better understand climate change, future weather, and risks, and can update our weather-adjustment methods, how do you think we can go about commensurately reducing safety margins and redundancies?
      A: Haven't thought deeply about that. 15% exists because of weather, as well as component outages, as well as uncertainties in heavy industrial processes (e.g. market fluctuations for demand for steel and steel manufacturing). 15% just worked out the best across the board. […] Send me your paper when it's done, and we'll take a look.

      Alex Carr - Director of Special Projects, The Climate Registry
      Sandy Taft - Director Environmental & Sustainability Policy, national Grid
      Davida Heller - VP of Corporate Sustainability, City Group
      Stewart VanHorn - Director of Global Sustainability, Kimberly-Clark Corporation


      Sandy Taft: Stakeholder engagement has been critical to every project.
      Davida Heller: We're a bank so our primary objective is financing the global economy. But we were able to take their BAU and communicate the positive impacts, and then consider where the opportunities are to do better. Good approach!
      Stewart: CC mitigation and adaptation is integrated into our bonus and recognition structure. Wow!

      Lessons learned in overcoming obstacles?
      Stewart: there's a belief that certain things don't pay. That we couldn't invest. At the end of the day collaboration got us through it. We did more.
      Sandy: Internal alignment, DG hookup, there's a lot of challenges that are keeping our engineers on their toes, but we're getting it done.
      Davida: We wanted to have accounting to show the market what's happening. We met our goal 3 years early. We decided to keep our same accounting methodology. 2015 wasn't a great year for RE given expiration of ITC, but as a bank we can't hit a goal in less than 3 years that we projected for way out into the future. When you're thinking about the clean trillion, we need to this to be accurate and transparent when we're talking about what we're doing. We overhauled our accounting, and did it more in the way that is consistent with how the finance industry did accounting historically. i.e. What are our direct contributions? I didn't clearly understand what she meant by this, but philosophically, yes, enough of the greenwashed placating goals, the bogus metrics, and just bottom-line what you want.
      Stewart: The earlier you can begin, and look at the intersection of other sustainability planks, talking to the communities that you live and work in, make sure it makes sense to their sustainability goals, see where we can bring additional value? Getting ahead with local entities, and figure out if you want to use your own capital or 3rd party. There's limits on public ROI. So, how can we bring in other sources of cash flow? E.g. Green Bonds? We can provide the transparency as well as the accountability.
      Davida: we are now using a lot of what we financed for our clients for ourselves. RE, data centers (City had to approve lending to itself, and we got it budgeted as an Ops cost), we were a part of a Green Bond.

      Mustafa Santiago Ali
      Senior VP of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization, Hip Hop Caucus

      Opener: One of the things we've been hearing in the lack of federal leadership is the need for bottom-up grass roots leadership. But the foundation of all of those cities, businesses, etc is the communities. So, how does that play into this conversation?

      Q: you've been at the hip hop caucus for about a year, how's it going?
      A: It's great, it's the intersection of culture, policy and communities. We breakdown silos and make change happen. Speak to the essence of our country and make real change happen. It's a blessing. Travel a lot. Last year he was home 3-weeks. Helping folks realize where the opportunities are. How do we reclaim our power. We all have power in processes. E.g. Gina talked last night about how not all the power is in Washington.

      Q: Getting around the country, you've been talking to a lot of people. What are the young people thinking?
      A: I literally talk to thousands every month in various places and spaces. Most young people, when it comes to a conversation about climate, under 30's naturally get it. It's why aren't we doing more, and we'll do it ourselves. They also have a very clear understanding of our civic process and how and why it's so important. There is one individual in particular who has made it clear to folks how very important voting is. (laughter) Maya Angelou said, "when someone shows you who they are, believe them." As we begin to move forward on a21-st century paradigm, people coming from communities of color, from low-income communities, have to be part of the conversation. We have to give some points of connection and intersection. If we are serious about winning on climate and the environment, then those voices have to be a part of our process.

      Q: What's been revealed is that the power of businesses, cities, states, NGO's -- underlying all that is the power of the community. We have a coming moment where these things can come together. What do you see as that successful community collaboration look like?
      A: It's authentic. There's space open. There's power sharing. I often talk about Mrs. Ramirez. 65 years old, a number of grand children. e.g. HBC partnering with people around the country. Creating opportunities for entrepreneurship. Vote energy, Amani Energy. People want to know that you care. Almost like a romantic relationship: be honest, be truthful, be present. It's tough for people because of all of our obligations, but we have to honor each other.

      Q: this is an important component of the Renaissance of power, beyond the federal government, or state and local governments. This final piece is pulling together the community.
      A: Share a point: I've been talking to a lot of you about your work, and I hope you understand how incredibly important your work is, especially to vulnerable communities, our front-line communities. 140 M people in low air quality, 100+M asthma, they are often not discussed. So all your work is affecting directly or indirectly. When we're in our organizations, do we see folks who LOOK like America? Something else to think about as we move forward.

      Audience Q: Young people and people of color, what about people being disenfranchise at the polls (this does not seem like a very disenfranchised room), what can we do?
      A: I was raised in a family of Baptists, very blessed, because of our blessings we have to use our privilege to be supportive. When we see ways to move forward, these are win-wins. See my respect my vote campaign, and engaging through music. Share information, share power. That's difficult because there's a perception about losing power, but when you do it right you create more power.  This is the beauty of culture, is that it moves across all of these things, and brings people together.

      Q: …
      A: In my 24 years doing this it's always been about getting voices engaged early. For me, it's if Mr Johnson or Mrs Ramirez doesn't see what's going on, then how can we move forward in the right direction?

      Last thought: Sometimes when you turn the tv on and you see the craziness, you can get taken back, but you all do have power. When we had the first women's march they took that back to their communities, and if they couldn't find people to represent the issues properly they'd do it themselves. In the science march, we brought people together to show our support for science. …

      As Dr King said, we came to these shores in different ships, but we're all in the same boat now. We are going to make change happen, and we're going to do it together.

      *Had us do a little team-building and stand up and say "power" a few times*

      I spoke with him briefly afterwards, and asked about addressing divisive/factioning rhetoric.
      And his response was, generally, to provide counter examples

      Side-bar conversations

      I had a some very interesting philosophical conversations with a few folks, including

      • Debate about common b-school philosophy that "the purpose of a business is to make a profit" is flawed.
        • I argued that the purpose of a business is to TRADE goods and or services. Making a profit is a by-product of a successful trade. This is a very important philosophical distinction for the internal narrative of employees/businesses. Making money isn't a human experience, it's an accounting experience. Using goods, and receiving services, are human experiences. If we define the goal as making money, then that can be used to rationalize/justify a lot of inhumane/dehumanizing/unethical behavior. No wonder we have the epidemics of psychopathy and "consumerism" bc the perspective is to not think of people as citizens, but as consumers or humanoid-livestocck. Whereas, if we define the goal as to engage in trade, the perspective is now fundamentally based on two or more parties engaging in a human experience. 
      • Someone got offended by my lack of condemning the Trump administration and the fact that I was wearing a pistol tie clip. Lol, good, "those who get offended easily, should get offended more often." I'm now running about 50:1 compliments to complaints for my pistol tie clip. Best $7 I ever spent. ;-)
      • I'm not a fan of the "you're either with us or against us" divisive rhetoric, and talked to several people about it as I've blogged a lot about lately. It's been tremendously damaging to the "brand" of climate change. It's not a partisan issue, and was glad to hear those sentiments shared many times to many applauses throughout the conference.
      • Along the same lines I blew some people's minds where I explained that as a PhD candidate, buried in technical reports, how many "errors" (uncertainties) I've found in climate change studies and how they tend to be in the direction of making the results look more significant. Issues with the publishing industry / university publishing industry, issues with "the science" and science communication. A.k.a. preaching to the choir about how their singing is off, and ideas as to how to tune up and move forward.
        • On the last day, I specifically spoke with a communications person who lamented working with the scientists on PR-errata, how everything comes back as paragraphs of caveats and conditions. I suggested re-framing the task. Okay, Mr/Ms scientist! The task is to make a blurb, a soundbite, a tweet. Fit your square peg in this round hole for public consumption!
        • Also, as a communications/PR person, you better be interested in these technical conversations about the 2nd and 3rd level details. Bc we need you on the front lines explaining the work, communicating the value, handling objections, identifying next steps, and making the scientists/engineers' work look good so we can get more funding to solve more problems! If we're not self-policing for greenwashing garbage, or hijacking by other special interest groups -- then we all get made fools of, conspiracy theorists get fodder to work with, and then scientists/engineers have to do our jobs without federal support! Look at the mess we have on our hands now with CC PR! This isn't the engineers' fault. You know, the people actually doing the math, pushing buttons and cranking wrenches, solving physical problems, reducing emissions while keeping the lights on and the beer cold. Not the accountants fault Not the admins fault. Not POTUS's fault! Who's left?
      • Be very skeptical of anyone who claims to be a "risk" expert who doesn't have a substantive positive poker history.
        • Mine is 77% session win rate over 500 sessions. Longest losing streak of 5 sessions, longest winning streak of 31 sessions. Primary source of income for 4 years (2007-2010), and financed grad school upfront w/o debt.
        • Side-bar rant: Joked that I should have made more money and retired first before getting a job. Oh well, incorporating Stoicism into my Buddha-Jesus philosophy (read my blog!) was probably better for my character development anyway. Point is, the market opportunity was overwhelming in early-mid 2000's for anyone who understood applied prob/stats, and had good introspection/adaptation/character-growth skills. So, anyone who's got aptitude for "risk", and actually LIKES that kind of work, i.e. thinks it's fun, would have had a hard time helping themselves but from taking it up as at least a hobby for a while when it was so popular. Even Bill Gates played $4/8 limit with his billionaire buddies and got an autographed copy of Super System (the Bible of poker) from Godfather Dolly. Also didn't play him poker, because obv, "I can have just as much fun losing a hundred as I can losing a million." Then went out and bought a bunch of ridiculous sports cars w/ his bros in Vegas. Too bad I didn't have more capital to start with or I'd be a millionaire. Oh well. Still, I'd like to thank all the Silicon Valley middle manager naysayers, who wouldn't interview me for a job, but kept meeting me at the tables to give me a piece of their salaries one 80/20 situation at a time. ;-) Fun fact: thanks to their support on nights and weekends, I was able to spend my weekdays volunteering at various places/startups and try to figure out a way to add-value to this human existential sustainability problem of climate change. And here we are! 10 years later, and I'm trailblazing how to use climate change data to do risk assessments in the utility sector -- in terms that bottom-line it for all the stakeholders. I swear, there are days where I can't believe this hasn't been done already. Lots of activity in the space, but so few people have intuition to do anything creative with math/stats. Or actually listen to the field engineers. That's really it I'd say, I just talk to everybody and listen. Next time I hear some blathering platitude about "machine learning" I might lose my cookies. Machine leaning isn't, it's algorithmic data collection, constrained to what's been input to the machine. I'll take human learning any day over machine learning, thank you. Hope this is encouraging for any young people looking to break into a field, especially climate change work (we need you), especially people from less-privileged backgrounds (you are more capable than you realize!). I have yet to meet one person who says there is a shortage of problems in the world. Or who'll disagree that we've got a ton of untapped genius in this country in our underprivileged or less-privileged communities. 
        • "I've debated many economists who claim to specialize in risk and probability: when one takes them slightly outside their narrow focus, but within the discipline of probability, they fall apart, with the disconsolate face of a gym rat in front of a gangster hit man.” ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
      • Overpopulation...
      • And more…
      • CHALLENGE to the reader: go out of your way to engage a group that you find disagreeable or "offensive" -- in a positive (or at least neutral) way. E.g. show up to a meeting, be nice, listen, and sincerely try to understand whatever they're talking about.

      Great conference!
      Looking forward to applying to be a speaker next year, and presenting lessons learned from my PhD dissertation.

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