Influential Women in Cleantech: Top 10 fighting for the Environment in our Governments
It’s easy to forget sometimes that most governments are designed to move slowly and methodically, as to help maintain an equilibrium in society. However, in the face of increasing signs of climate change, this slow pace can be thoroughly frustrating. Whether your government’s reactions to global warming have made you wallow or feel uncharacteristically violent, often focusing on the good that is going on can help ease the tensions of what you think “should” be happening. In this edition we’ll focus on women in the government positions who are working tirelessly to protect our planet. You may find it feels good to know there are some knowledgeable people on Earth’s side.
1. Lisa P. Jackson
Follow on Twitter @lisapjackson
Lisa P. Jackson is featured in the pages of Newsweek, Time Magazine, O Magazine an Essence magazine, and not just for the prominence of her position as the EPA administrator. Jackson dug her heels in immediately as the first African American Administrator, wanting to steer the country towards green solutions that would benefit from our communities on-up.
“…For too long, environmentalism has been seen as limited – in many ways, as an enclave for the privileged. Talking about the quote-unquote “environment” brings to mind sweeping vistas and wide-open landscapes. The places where people go on vacation – but not the place where they live, work, play and learn,” Jackson said at the 2010 Conference on Environmental Justice, Air Quality, Goods Movement and Green Jobs.”This disconnect is a significant challenge.But it’s also one of our greatest opportunities.”
Jackson did not grow up as an outdoorsy person, but as a proud resident of New Orleans where she graduated from Tulane. Later, Jackson gained interest in the environment during the Love Canal Disaster, and this interest would eventually lead her to the EPA. She created seven priorities for the EPA that solidified the organizations path; a green path to protect the public while enabling communities to protect and prevent environmental problems themselves.
Jackson undergoes constant scrutiny from the public and Congress. The House Republicans threatened to subpoena her on a weekly basis. On an interview with Newsweek Jackson said as a scientist she responds to such scrutiny with simply the fact.
2. Connie Hedegaard Brings the World Together
EU Commissioner for Climate Action
As a Danish politician, it fell into the lap of Connie Hedegaard to host the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. As former Danish Minister of Climate and Energy she stood as on one of the most qualified citizens for the task. This particular UN conference led to ideas known as the Copenhagen Accord for countries to recognize climate to be a top issue in the world today. Unfortunately, this conference did not lead to a legally binding treaty. Presently, due to the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference, there is a treaty where countries are responsible to lower their carbon emissions. Connie took up new position at the European Commission on 10 February 2010, and just in April 2012 signed a treaty with India about renewable energies. Hedegarrd frequently publishes articles pushing the importance of climate change in the 21st century:
“A child born today is one out of seven billion, and during his lifetime, he will see the world’s population grow with another 3 billion. More people will enter the global middle class, not least in Brazil. This is good news. But by the time this child, born today, will turn 18 in 2030, the world will need at least 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water. Every day, 24,000 football fields of forests are being trapped or burned. In 20 years from now, our water supply will satisfy only 60% of world demand. These are the kind of challenges we are facing today, Hedegarrd.”
3. Dianne Dillon-Ridgely’s Millennium Development Goals
Non-Executive Director at Interface, Inc.
Board of Directors at Interface, Inc.
Thirty years working on environment and sustainability has led Ridgely to a lot of different delegations, conferences and positions. Notably she was the only person to serve as a US delegate for Earth Summit in Rio, UNGASS- ‘97 and WSSD in South Africa. She worked as council on Sustainable Development for former President Clinton, and worked on President Obama’s campaign for 18 months. Ms. Dillon-Ridgley declared that the most important thing to note is that we have spent the last 35 years politicizing the environment. What we should have been doing was environmentalizing politics. Environmental issues need to be a primary focus in policy decisions, she said. Instead of arguing with climate change skeptics, people need to take action, Ms. Dillon-Ridgley urged. action! http://www.wnsf.org/archives/-the-business-of-climate-change-post-/
4. Frances Beinecke the Defender of National Resource
President, National Resources Defense Council
Beinecke is president of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) where she started as an intern, and later became president in 2006 after leaving NRDC for a few years to spend time with her three young daughters. Driven by her desire to help protect the North Eastern forests and wild Western landscapes Beinecke decided to study environmentalism.. But when the oil crises came to light in the 1970’s, Frances shifted her focus to protecting marine life.
Recently she and NRDC gave congress a ‘D’, she explained in her blog, “Congress, in particular, has abdicated its responsibility. The commissioners gave it a grade of D because it has failed to pass a single law to improve safety and environmental protection in the wake of the BP Gulf disaster. Congress must act to make drilling safer and help restore the Gulf of Mexico.”
5. Gina McCarthy, People Hugger
Assistant Administrator of the Office of Air and Radiation
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
At the US EPA, Gina is a leading advocate for win-win strategies to confront climate change and strengthen the green economy. .At the EPA she helps the country take steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions and protect public health by reducing air pollution.
Writing on her activism in the air pollution sector she said, “”I’m not a tree hugger; I’m a people hugger, concerned with people’s need for clean air and water.”
Gina emphasizes that environmentally friendly does not necessarily mean limiting growth in the economy. In her 25-year career she worked to develop and support environmental strategies to make the economy thrive, while conforming to climate change simultaneously. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation’s first market-based greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system, is a good example of her work in this arena.
6. Jane Pagel Sharing Water as a Resource for People and Businesses
President and CEO of Ontario Clean Water Agency
In addition to captaining an agency of 700 at the OCWA Jane Pagealso serves on the board of Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is a longstanding member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on Science and Technology and was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for WaterTAP, the Water Technology Acceleration Project, established under the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act.
The aim of OCWA in particular is to provide business and government on the best research and data in the water sector as possible. Recently she spoke about global water issues involving the competition between business and urban populations to water access. In her speak Where? explored how governments can help eliminate this competition through technology, infrastructure and information based solutions.
7. Nanci Klein
Deputy Director of the Office of Economic Development (OED) City of San Jose
Nancy Klein’s job is to lead San Jose towards economic growth in private and commercial endeavors in such a way that San Jose approaches its green goals with fiscal responsibility. All of this must be done while making sure that the city acts responsibly in its role of environmental stewardship. Home of Silicon Valley entrepreneurialism San Jose has big green dreams of transforming itself to a place where Clean Technology thrives, while simultaneously creating economic growth. Klein makes sure that the budgets fit these big dreams.
8. Rachel Shimshak Leading the Northwest in Renewables
Director for the Renewable Northwest Project
Shimshak’s mantra is “Planning is good, doing is better.” Her work as the Director of the Renewable Northwest Project (RNP) demonstrates her capability of getting green projects going. RNP objectives are to get good projects in the ground, promote policies that support renewable and grow the green retail market. Under the leadership of Shimshak, one of the most notable achievements of RNP is their assistance in the Northwest to create over 1,500 MW of wind, geothermal and solar projects. Nearly 900 MW of additional renewable energy projects are currently under construction, including the region’s first geothermal power plant.
In a DoE Wind Power Advocate interview she said if she could change one policy by decree she would do something about carbon. “I think the polluting industries have gotten away far too long without internalizing that cost.” The good news she says is that “utilities around the region have active requests for proposals for 1500 megawatts of renewables right now. Our current challenge is to get them [utilities] to follow through. We need reasonable transmission products and policies from them in order to accelerate renewables in the Northwest.”
9. Sarah Potts’ Focus on LA’s Green Management
City Director, Los Angeles, Clinton Climate Initiative
As the City Director the Los Angeles C40 Climate Leadership Group Sarah Potts focuses on business, politics and environmentalism of the city. C40 is a network of large and engaged cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally. Recently she has supported a street light project which will reduce C02 emissions by over 40,500 tons and save the city $10 million a year. Demonstrating that going green and city budgets do not always have to be at odds. In addition, Ms. Potts recently worked with the City of Los Angeles to design and launch the Los Angeles Commercial Building Performance Partnership — an ARRA funded initiative offering commercial building owners energy audits and innovative financing options, including PACE.
10. Sarah Wright the Public’s Environmental Crusader
Founder and Executive Director of Utah Clean Energy
Wright is the founder and director of Utah Clean Energy (UTC), a non-profit public interest organization that works to build a clean energy economy. Sarah also serves on the Utah Governor’s Energy Advisory Council and the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change. In 2009 she won the Women of Wind Energy Rising Star award for her accomplishments in promoting wind, renewable energy and efficiency within the state of Utah.
Explaining the change that government must make Wright said, “We need a vision that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels. But that’s also public policy, and that comes down to political will. It’s the governor and the Legislature saying, ‘We want to widen our narrow focus on fossil fuels. We want to diversify.” At Utah Clean Energy Wright reaches out to citizens and business to become proactive in pressuring their government towards green economies.