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Episode 47: Dr. Lucas Joppa

This week, Jon Powers sits down with Dr. Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer at Microsoft. They discuss Joppa’s background studying ecology and biodiversity, how that led him to a career at Microsoft, and what he does as Chief Environmental Officer. Dr. Joppa leads the company’s environmental sustanibility efforts as well as the Al for Earth Project, a 5 year, $50 million cross-company program dedicated to Al research and technology in agriculture, water, biodiversity, and climate change.

Before Chief Environmental Officer, Dr. Joppa worked as a researcher for Microsoft at the intersection of environmental and computer science. He has a bachelors degree in Wildlife Ecology and Zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in Ecology from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. He also volunteered with the PeaceCorps in Malawi.

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Jon Powers: Welcome to Experts Only Podcast, sponsored by Clean Capital. You can learn more at CleanCapital.com. I’m your host, Jon Powers. Each week we explore the intersection of energy, innovation and finance with leaders across the industry. Thank you so much for joining us.

Jon Powers: Welcome back to Experts Only Podcast. Today, we’re speaking with Dr. Lucas Joppa, Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Officer. Lucas leads the company’s environmental sustainability efforts, and is leading the AI for Earth project. Five year, $50 million cross company project dedicated to AI research and technology in agriculture, water, bio diversity and climate change. We’re going to talk a lot about that program today, as well as the initiatives underway across Microsoft to increase renewables, and reduce their carbon footprint.

Jon Powers: Before becoming the Chief Environmental Officer, Lucas worked as a researcher for Microsoft at the intersection of environmental and computer science. He has a bachelors degree in wildlife ecology and zoology from the University of Wisconsin and Madison. We definitely explore how we went from that to being the Chief Environmental Officer of a tech company like Microsoft. He also had a really interesting experience volunteering in the peace corp at Malawi. So, we look forward to the conversation.

Jon Powers: Lucas, thank you so much for joining me on Experts Only Podcast.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Thanks for having me here.

Jon Powers: So, I want to start a little bit about your personal journey to Microsoft. You’ve got a really incredible background, you know just both from a bio perspective. You’ve got a bachelors in wildlife ecology and zoology, which is something that probably most people wouldn’t consider in a suite level role at a technology company. But then you also went to the peace corp and worked in Malawi. So, I want to back to… go back to your time in college. What was your interest that focused you into ecology, and then, how did you end up going into the peace corp?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah, sure. I’ve just always been interested in kind of the natural world, how things work. Not necessarily how things that people build but how the rest of the world, the natural world works. I grew up far northern Wisconsin, spent a lot of my childhood just hanging out in the woods, wandering around trying to learn as much as I could. I went to study in undergrad and started wondering, or thinking, about what I could do. I found out about a major called wildlife ecology, and for me, that kind of seemed like a basketball player getting to major in basketball or something.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Didn’t really seem like something that you should be able to like go and have a job doing. But that’s what I focused on, and that’s really kind of what led me down that path. So, just getting more and more kind of academically interested but more and more just interested in, not just how the world works, but how human activities are influencing the way the natural world works. And, that’s kind of that balance that I’ve tried to strike through through my whole career in everything that I’ve done.

Jon Powers: So, you’re in Wisconsin, you’re finishing up your degree. What leads you to the peace corp?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah, what led me to the peace corp is what’s led me to most of the great things in my life actually, which was my wife. We’ve been together since… we’re childhood sweethearts and you think that you know everything about somebody by that point, but we were getting ready to graduate and we’re walking down the street and asking what we should do with our lives after this. She said, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to join the peace corp.” I thought huh, never mentioned that to me before, but let’s do that.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: And so, we signed up and we got shipped off to Malawi, where I-

Jon Powers: Oh, you guys were stationed together?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: We were stationed together, yeah. It was an unbelievable experience. I’m not sure I would recommend it to every newly married couple, but it definitely worked out really well for us. I had the opportunity to work with their Department of National Parks and Wildlife. And it was this really incredible experience in so many ways, just culturally and professionally, right, seeing kind of going from a very academic focus on wildlife ecology and conservation to a very, you know, boots on the ground, applied focus on that same topic.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: But also the location in Malawi that we were stationed in was up in the north, and it was in this tiny little village a long way back in there as they say. But really sat between these two game reserves. One was Nika National Park, a high grass land plateau with some of the highest leopard density. Incredible orchid diversity and endemism. Just this really, you know, you’re in northern Malawi but you feel like you’re in the lake district of England.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Then, 30 miles to the south, a place called Vouasa Marsh Game Reserve, which is your kind of proto typical south eastern African swampy, sudsy, fly infested kind of game reserve. So, just seeing kind of the way that diversity scaled there, the way that it influenced people and then, just the way that people were embedded in the landscape there was hugely eye opening, instructive. I worked with school communities. One of the things that was the most surprising to me of my entire experience in the peace corp was dealing with communities of people that live on the boundaries of protected areas, but have never been inside, and have never seen any of the animals there.

Jon Powers: Wow.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: And to just see that dichotomy between how spacial proximity versus kind of real proximity to some of the big issues it was… that barrier is one that I’ve been really interested in breaking down through my whole career.

Jon Powers: Wow. So, you traveled back, which sounds like a pretty amazing experience, to the states. Then, you ended up at Duke to get your PhD. Did you get your masters at Duke as well?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: I did not. I’ve always been kind of an impatient person, and I just like-

Jon Powers: Yeah.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: I just like to skip things.

Jon Powers: Okay.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: So, I was incredibly fortunate to receive a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship when I was an undergrad. And what that allowed me to do, it was three years of funding for a grad school over a five year period. So, it allowed me to defer for two years and go and have this experience in the peace corp, but then know that I was going to come back and do a funded PhD research position.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: So, I went straight to Duke. The Nicholas School there, a world class institution. I-

Jon Powers: Of course, yeah.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: You know, the opportunity to work with the faculty there is just incredible. I had the good fortune of working with a professor named Dr. Stewart Pim, huge mentor of mine. And, I’ll never forget, my aspiration was to basically go straight back to south eastern Africa and start studying wildlife population declines, and you know, I started telling him my plans. He said, “No, no, no, no. You’re sitting your butt in this chair and you’re learning how to use a computer.”

Jon Powers: Wow.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: It was like, well I mean, I know how to use a computer. But he meant kind of use a computer in the way that I hope everybody is motivated… everybody in the environmental space is, will be at least, motivated to use a computer moving forward. He meant the fundamentals of computer science.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Programming of the statistics that enable you to use those other areas to pursue more advanced forms of machine learning. And, so I did. I was the only person in the lab to never do any field work. Stewart’s perception was I’d already done enough field work in my life and now was the time to do some lab and some computer work. And you know, I’ll never… I can’t be more grateful for that mentorship because it’s what got me, not just able to have the career that I’m having now, but it’s what ultimately allowed me to pursue the answers to all the scientific questions I actually had, because the questions I wanted to know were super diverse. Everything from… I think one of the first papers I wrote was called Do Protected Areas Protect? You know, super basic questions, like-

Jon Powers: Yeah, challenging the basics though.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah, challenging… and to ask that question I didn’t say does this protected area protect? I wanted to ask the bigger questions, do protected areas protect? For that, you need to ask that globally and you have to be able to do things like do global analysis of deforestation against global databases of protected areas. You can’t do any of that without computers. I also was interested in how ecosystems work, food webs, the ecological networks, and the graph theory and the mathematics behind extension cascades.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: All of that extremely numerical and computationally intensive. So, ultimately, I think that mentorship, not just you know, allowed me to increase my skills but it significantly advanced my career and, it significantly advanced the science that I was able to pursue.

Jon Powers: So, why was… you know, I could understand why you’re interested in that. In the flip, when you ended up going to Microsoft and doing research on some of these issues, what was their interest in it? I mean, this seems probably to people so out of left field for why Microsoft would be looking into these issues. So, why would they bring on someone with your background, and do research into bio diversity for instance?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah. I think there’s a couple different reasons, but I would say I was equally surprised. I was not planning on joining Microsoft straight out of my-

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: And, you know, I had the incredible good fortune though of doing so, and joining Microsoft research, which is this pure blue sky corporate research lab, that just you know, let’s you basically pursue whatever your passionate about. I would say that they allowed me to do that for several reasons.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: One, I think they’re… you know, if you take a look at the field of statistics you quickly realize that a lot of the world’s leading statisticians at some point found their way through biology or ecology. Fisher, Mendez, you know these guys, Reverend Bays, you know the big areas that they were concerned on were often biological in nature. Ecology and conservation biology has always been a field that’s out there pushing the limits of statistics and computing because it’s really hard. It’s not… well, I’m not saying it’s not hard to do statistics and computing in a computer lab, but it’s a lot harder out in the woods. So, there was that expectation of hey, these are really hard problems.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: There was also an awareness that you allow people to work on what they’re passionate about and you get way more out of them, than if you make them work on the things that you think are important. The modeling approaches that I was using were generally applicable to many other problems. I think it’s something that Microsoft is very good at taking this big picture approach of saying-

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: operating out the way you’re working on, and why you’re working on it.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Then, the third thing I think I just wrap it all up, and the same reason that we continue to work on this. You’re talking about environmental data, environmental science and computer science, and by definition you’re talking about big data, big compute in a big societal challenge. That just obviously sums up to a big opportunity for a company like Microsoft in this sector that we’re in.

Jon Powers: Yeah, absolutely. So, let’s talk about that. So, outside of the sort of ecological work you’re doing, Microsoft has done over 35 years of research into AI and you guys sort of seek opportunities to connect resources, and expand sustainability efforts to fight climate change through AI. And you sort of fathered the AI for Earth initiative there. Can you talk about what AI for Earth is, and sort of how did you come up with that idea?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah, definitely. I think AI for Earth is really just a culmination of the decade of investments that Microsoft and Microsoft research had put into this space. It was really an acknowledgement that it was time to take what we’d been working on out of the lab, and into the company proper. It was when I decided to leave Microsoft research was to go and lead this new program.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: It was driven by this awareness that Microsoft was increasingly shifting towards taking advantage of this 35 years of investment in AI that it had made, and really putting that front and center in all of our business, all of our products and services. I thought, this seems like a fantastic time, and one of my mentors and my manager at the time is one of a kind of world renowned leader in the field of AI, Dr. Corvets, and he kind of sat me down and said, “Now would be a perfect time to tell the company what we should be doing here.”

Dr. Lucas Joppa: So, I wrote this little memo called AI for Earth arguing that Microsoft should be directing a lot of its AI research and technologies into the four areas of agriculture, water, bio diversity and climate change. That those represent the big problems, big environmental problems for society. And if we are building what we think to be some of the biggest technology solutions, then we should be actively marrying that up.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: So, the company took that out of research, stood it up as a five year, $50 million commitment, and I moved over as the first Chief Environmental Scientist for the company to go and help lead that program.

Jon Powers: What time frame is this in? When you wrote the memo?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Well, now you’re getting to one of my weaknesses. Trying to do math over dates. But I think it was about two years ago.

Jon Powers: Oh, about two years ago. Okay. So, there’s a movement happening around climate and energy, and you sort of see the need to really bring AI in there. And it’s amazing to think through the effort around putting a memo together in a company like Microsoft, they’re able to commit the $50 million, it’s not a small number right, to make a change in the space. So, tell me about like, with the initiatives that you’re doing in AI to earth, is this set up for grants across the company, grants outside the company? Are you work… talk a little bit about sort of the structure and how it works?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah, definitely. So, the program itself has three pillars, what we call access education and co innovation. The access part is this… is kind of predicated on this awareness that environmentally focused organizations are often times some of the least resourced, and least capable of using some of the most advanced technologies that the tech sector is putting out. So, we have very active grants program. We look to make grants available to access just our core computing infrastructure.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: We also have grants to help people take data sets and get them ready for machine learning solutions. We’re putting in place grants to access, or to get access to machine learning kind of assistance. Then, we also just support the engineering of kind of end user specific applications, and I’m happy to talk about some of those. But, you know, organizations that produce applications like Wild Book, and I Naturalist, and Sylvia Terreus. Some of these organizations that are just really going out and trying to change the world with what they’re doing. We support them strongly as well.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: We invest a lot in education because we’re aware that just because you give somebody a new tool doesn’t mean they necessarily know how to use it. So, most of the world’s leading environmental scientist and practitioners didn’t graduate from the leading computer science institutions.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: or the leading environmental science institutions.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: You know, and we have to be clear eyed about that. Then, you know, this pillar of co innovation is super important. It’s this acknowledgment that Microsoft has some of the world leading people in all these areas. If we’re not putting them to work on these issues with our grantees outside the organization, then we’re not fully committing. So, we’ve got a team of data scientist and engineers that we can deploy to go work hand in hand with folks.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: I just got back from a team off site the last few days. I was surprised to learn that the numbers that I have been telling everybody about some of our program growth have been significantly outdated. We now, in the year and a half that we’ve been in existence, we’ve gone from zero to 381 grantees.

Jon Powers: Oh wow.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Seven continents, 60 plus countries. It’s just been this mind blowing journey to be on, and I think one of the things that’s fantastic about Microsoft and its business model is it’s never really been about us. It’s always about making our customers and our partners, and in AI for Earth since our grantees the heroes because they’re the ones doing the real work. We’re building the tools to help accelerate their work.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: And, you know, just being able to take the resources that Microsoft has, and to put them behind some of these smaller organizations that would never have access to these awareness campaigns that we’re able to put down. It’s just phenomenal. I think some of the… you know, the emails of gratitude are definitely the best part of my day.

Jon Powers: How do you find some of these grantees, or how do they find you? Is there a way, you know if you’re a listener and you’re trying to develop a solution you think would benefit from AI, how do they find you all?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah, so it’s super easy. You just visit the AI for Earth, Microsoft AI for Earth website, click on the grants tab, and we try to make it as simple as possible. The way that we typically try to work is we offer… we kind of operate this as a funnel system. We offer… it’s pretty easy to get in the door with a $5000, $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000 cloud computing grant. That gets you into the community. The broader AI for Earth global community. And from there you start gaining access to more and more resources as we watch you, hopefully, succeed with the initial computing resources that you’ve had and, it’s been really amazing to watch some of our grantees really grow through that journey.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: We’ve basically graduated a few organizations in the short amount of time, from small cloud grants all the way to larger infrastructure and programmatic grants, where they’re able to take everything that they’re doing and, offer up new services to the world through our website. We’re really focusing on ensuring that once people have the data and the trained models that they’re able to make those models available as services in kind of an application programming interface or API sort of-

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: So yeah.

Jon Powers: Interesting. Now, you’ve got a global background, so of those 381 grantees, you said 60 countries, do you find a balance between the international and the domestic here in terms of where you’re seeing sort of progress, and opportunity?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah, I would like to see that balance… I would like to see that balanced out even more. We do have a balance, of course, but for me, one of the things that I talk about a lot is diversity and specifically geographic diversity because one of the things about environmental challenges is that they manifest themselves differently in space and time. And, you know, so here, even here in the United States, we’re in about 36 states right now. I would love to see us get to all 50. Why? Because the environmental challenges that we’re facing here in the pugit sound in Washington are completely different than the environmental challenges that they might be facing down in Charleston, or the Florida Panhandle. Much less Latin America, Asia, Australia.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: So, for us, we’re a small team. Yes, we’re a global company but we’re a small sustainability team. So, for us to understand what the problems are and how technology can be deployed to help solve them, that means that we’ve got to be in as many places or as many spaces as possible.

Jon Powers: Yeah. Interesting. So, I’m going to transition here from the AI for Earth initiative, which is incredible, into a little bit into Microsoft operations and what you’re doing for sustainability within you’re own operation. We’ve got other guests from other tech companies or, major fortune 100s talk about what they’re doing in their own facilities, or data centers. And of course, I do want to get to the carbon piece in a second, but can you talk a little bit about how you guys are looking to bring renewables into your own operations?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah. Well, last week we announced what I think to be one of, well, the most significant sustainability ambitions or commitments that the company has ever made. We can talk about kind of all of that, but one piece of it that we announced is further progress on our path to 100% renewable energy as a company. Particularly around our data centers business, which has you know, the largest energy footprint in the company. What we announced was really two things. One, that we would be meeting our current goal, which is to achieve 60% renewable energy directly powering our data center business by the early 2020s. We’ll meet that very early, sometime next year.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Then, we’ve set another kind of mark in the sand, a 70% goal by 2023. The thing that’s really important for us, the reason that we keep putting these incremental goals out there is because it really helps drive those principles of transparency and accountability for us, because it provides this every few year forced check in. Both internally and with the external stakeholders to say, yep we’re still there. I think we’ve seen a lot of other organizations say they’re going to 100%, but then it goes kind of radio silent.

Jon Powers: Yep.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: And for us, it’s really important to hold ourselves accountable and to be transparent with everybody on this issue.

Jon Powers: Yeah, and those incremental steps are huge. I mean, you have companies that will set like 20/40 goals, but you know, no one is going to be tracking for the next 20 years how you’re going to get there.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Right.

Jon Powers: As clearly as saying, this two years we’ve done X. How are you procuring that renewables? Do you guys have a shop that focuses on doing power purchase agreements, or are you sort of outsourcing some of that? How does Microsoft sort of pursue that?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: We do. I think, you know this team is one of the most amazing teams that I get to work with inside Microsoft I think. My colleague Brian Janice leads our energy procurement team, and he and his team are just kind of whiz kids really, I think, when it comes to direct power purchase agreements, making sure the finances work, making sure all of this stuff is cost competitive. Making it a win/win for the company, something where we’re not just doing this because people expect us to, but we’re doing it because it’s actually helping our business.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: You know, get the types of energy, and the stable types of energy and the long term contracts that we need. I’m not an energy expert myself, which is why the company has been able to go so far so fast I think, because they haven’t required me to actually do it.

Jon Powers: It’s amazing, and that progress, especially when you’re talking data centers, which are such energy hogs to have you know, goals like 70% are really important. I know that a lot of folks in the industry today looking at sort of the corporate procurement side of this as, you know, as big as any utility that’s out there today when you start to put together the size of these companies making massive acquisitions.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah. I think the thing that people… we have another goal that’s complementary to our renewable energy goals. It’s to reduce our overall carbon emissions by 75% by 2030. That’s compared to a 2013 baseline. And, that sounds impressive in and of itself I think, you know 75%-

Jon Powers: Yeah.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: By 2030, by comparing ourselves to 2013. What that hides is the incredible increase in load that we’re taking, right? The growth that we’re undergoing. So, we’ve got basically hyper scale growth, and we’re trying to drive hyper scale reductions and carbon. That’s why I say, you know, what Brian and that energy team have been able to do is just so incredible because it’s not just about procuring renewable energy in a static world. It’s about procuring renewable in an exceptionally increasing world.

Jon Powers: Is part of that initiative to reduce the carbon footprint, is that where the internal carbon fee, I want you to talk a little bit about what that looks like, but when I was serving the White House, we actually had teams from Microsoft come in specifically because we were trying to study that to figure out how to try to implement a similar thing across the federal footprint. Can you talk a little bit about what that initiative does, and sort of how it’s managed internally? I know you’ve had some new goals associated with it.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Sure, yeah. So, since 2012 Microsoft has operated as a carbon neutral company, and we can talk about the details there if you think your listeners will be interested, but one of the ways that we’ve supported that or the way that we support that, is being one of the only companies that actually has had an internal price on carbon. This isn’t just a shadow price or a price put in for planning and visibility. This is a real price on carbon that everybody has to pay.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: It does… it’s been there to help us kind of fund sustainability all up for quite a while. What we announced last week as part of this broader kind of doubling down on sustainability with a tech first approach is our President Brad Smith announced it as. What really led that was the kind of how. And in a company, you know, how and funding are almost synonymous.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: So, the how for us in many respects, how are we going to get to this doubling down of sustainability? How are we going to invest in this tech first approach? It’s through our carbon feed, and a near doubling of it. Right? So, what that fee is intended to do is three things.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: It’s intended to ensure that we continue to operate as a carbon neutral company. We’re not moving away from that commitment. It’s intended to accelerate our path to 100% renewable energy, because every mega watt hour of renewable energy that somebody in the company procures is some fraction of a metric ton of CO2 that they don’t have to pay for.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: And, then third, we use it to raise funds to invest across the company in new technology solutions in our products, our services, our business operations teams, and hand in hand with customers and partners. One of the things that I think is really interesting to kind of provide clarity on is, when people talk about a carbon fee you might here you know, some state bill or some national proposal, or the IPCC. There’s all these different numbers that people are throwing around about what the price should be.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: What you need to contextualize that with is what are you trying to do? You know, an IPCC sort of a number is trying to move global markets and global societies, for instance, right? Versus what are you trying to do with that fee inside of a company. Well, inside of a company, what we’re trying to do, are those three things, right?

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: And the price that we netted out at of $15 a metric ton works out really well in ensuring our ability to do those three things. To maintain carbon neutrality, to accelerate our path to 100% renewables and to invest in technology solutions.

Jon Powers: Lucas, that’s an incredible commitment Microsoft is making and has been doing now for, you know, closing in on seven years. For a whole nother conversation some other time, figuring how to set that fee per ton, you know I think brought up a lot of dialogue, both here domestically and internationally is more and more policy makers are looking at those type of solutions for a broader policy to address the climate crisis we’re facing.

Jon Powers: But, I want to sort of step back completely out of your Microsoft hat, and go back to Wisconsin. You are getting ready to… you graduate from college, or even from high school, and if you could go back and sit down with yourself and have a beer, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah, well if it was in high school I would have set don’t let your mom find out that you’re having this beer. 

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: But I guess it’s Wisconsin, so no harm, no foul, right?

Jon Powers: Right, exactly.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: No, I…

Jon Powers: Got to be in a Packers’ koozie though, right?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah. As long as it’s in… in front of a TV, showing a Packers’ game, nobody minds.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: I think about this a lot, and the answer kind of, I think often times, changes day to day, you know. But oftentimes it goes something like oh, you should pay more attention to your… you should have taken more computer science classes. You should have taken more business classes. You should have done this, you should have done that, right? That’s kind of the… maybe I’m too hard on my former self, but-

Jon Powers: Yeah.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: But you know, my imagined advised really kind of often rest in this, “Oh, you should have done it this way. What were you thinking?” And, I think ultimately what I would go back and say now is, “Stop thinking about when this is all going to be over.” Right? When you’re going to be done with high school, when you’re going to be done with your undergrad, when you’re going to have finished your PhD because the schooling never stops. Right?

Dr. Lucas Joppa: And, when you’re somebody as impatient as I am about so many things, but particularly our lack of progress on solving some of these key environmental challenges that we all face, it can be really easy to focus on the just trying to hurry up and get done with the next thing.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: But some of the things, learning for instance, just never ends. I think that’s actually one of the most beautiful parts of life. It’s actually what I love the most about my job, and about my career is that it’s that learning component is front and center of everything I do. So, I’ve definitely changed as a person.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: I think, you know, I would just say I’m not your typical… I don’t have your typical background for a Chief Environmental Officer, or Chief Sustainability Officer. So, you know we were just talking about the carbon fee. Well, that was a huge learning process for me.

Jon Powers: Right.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Right, I’ve never put in place a fee before. I’ve never done all the pricing, et cetera, et cetera. I’ve been part of the science behind why we should do it. I’ve been broadly supportive of doing it for a long time, but it was fascinating. It’s also extremely complex, and that complexity is one of the reasons we’re so proud that we’re able to do that inside Microsoft. But yeah, I don’t know. Just being less impatient, and more-

Jon Powers: Yeah. Lucas, thank you so much for your time. You’ve had an incredible, and continue to have an incredible career. And you know, I sort of challenge our listeners to check out, continue to check out, the work that Microsoft is doing. And if you know folks that are good candidates for AI for Earth, make sure you send them their way, and thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. Lucas Joppa: Yeah, thank you John. It was a huge pleasure.

Jon Powers: And for all of our audience, you can get more episodes at CleanCapital.com. If you have any ideas for guest, please submit them. I’d like to thank our producers, and also the team at Microsoft to help to put this together. It was a really fascinating conversation, and as always, I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Jon Powers: Thanks for listening in today’s conversation. Find more episodes on CleanCapital.com, iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe and leave us a five star review. We look forward to continuing our conversation on energy, innovation and finance with you.