10 February 2022

CIC member and former EPA head Carol Browner calls Climate Intelligence ‘essential to the climate risk debate’

Dr. Claire Huck

By Dr. Claire Huck

CIC member and former EPA head Carol Browner calls Climate Intelligence ‘essential to the climate risk debate’

Following the launch of our Climate Intelligence Council (CIC), Cervest is publishing a series of interviews with the organization’s expert members to learn more about their sizable accomplishments in science, policy, finance, technology and business. In this edition, we’re talking to Carol Browner, former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and recent addition to the Council.

A leading voice on environmental and sustainability issues, Browner has nearly four decades of experience in public policy, regulatory, environmental impact issues, corporate sustainability, and clean energy and ESG initiatives. As Assistant to President Barack Obama and Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, she helped oversee the coordination of environmental, energy and climate initiatives, including new automobile fuel efficiency standards and the most stringent air pollution standards in U.S. history. 

Leading up to her joining the CIC, I spoke with Carol about her decision to pursue public policy, why she thinks Climate Intelligence is so important to the climate risk debate, and her belief that environmental science should be at the heart of policy and strategy.

Can you share with us what you are working on in the climate space right now?

Currently, I am very focused on sustainable carbon / GHG reductions. This needs to be tackled at all levels, from national to subnational, government to industry. We need everyone on the playing field to achieve this. I am working with a number of companies on developing strategies to lower their carbon impacts and finding sustainable ways to expand their businesses that improve environmental stewardship. And, I am the board chair for the League of Conservation Voters, an organization that has prioritized federal and local action on climate change and identifying and supporting leaders that make climate change a policy priority.

Why do you believe that Climate Intelligence is so critical to the climate risk debate?

Climate Intelligence is essential to the climate risk debate. We have to understand and have the science and the knowledge to make informed decisions. When dealing with a problem of the magnitude of climate change, you must build public confidence in the decisions that you make and want to make.

Last year saw more extreme weather events than ever before, how do you see organizations and policy makers adapting to this growing risk?

Extreme weather events are also an opportunity to help educate the public on climate risk. The more you can educate members of the public by calling on their personal experience, the stronger the support we can build for policy decisions. People need access to information that is relatable, that has context in their own lives.

During a House Panel at the end of last year - you outlined following available science as one the priorities for an effective EPA. Can you expand on your belief that science should sit at the heart of environment policy and strategy?

Science is at the heart of all policy. It all begins with science. But we also need people to understand that science is a process - there is always another question to answer. As a policy maker, your job is to decide if there is enough information at that moment to answer the questions that need addressing. If we waited for all possible studies to be completed, we would never make decisions. For me, if the weight of evidence says yes - there is a problem, then there is a reason to take action. I have often ended up using the phrase ‘The Science made me do it’.

You're one of the first members of the Cervest Climate Intelligence Council - what led you to join the initiative?

Science is at the heart of Cervest’s platform, which is very important to me. There is transparency in what they are doing, providing access to information needed to allow everyone to make their own decisions. It honors the public’s right to know. And the information is innovative and adds important facts to the discussion that must be considered.

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