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Climate Center Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary

October 22, 2014 — “I can remember the early days of thinking about a place like this,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy recalled at the Georgetown Climate Center’s five-year anniversary celebration on October 21. It was, she said, “a point in time when there was no voice in Washington on this issue … or those voices were so muted and unable to take action that we felt we needed some bigger momentum.”

The event gathered senior state officials, leaders in the environmental and energy law and policy communities (including alumni), and funders to honor not only the Climate Center but also the state leadership that has been so essential in addressing climate change. “The only reason that EPA is able to [do] what the president wants us to do … is because we now have rested our foundation of action on what states have done,” McCarthy said.

The event also honored Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board and one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2013. “This is the moment for states … and I’m happy to be a representative of the states,” Nichols said. “But it is that amazing interaction between the federal and state governments … that has allowed for so much continued progress.”

As Michael Northrop of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund noted, Nichols was the one who suggested that a center bridging federal and state governments should be housed at Georgetown. Professors Robert Stumberg and Lisa Heinzerling also played a large role in making the center a reality. 

Achievements such as harmonized state and federal vehicle standards for greenhouse gases, a major climate policy framework released by President Obama at Georgetown in 2013, and EPA’s clean power plan that builds on the work of the states “really move us significantly down a path of reductions, thanks to so many of you in this room,” said Georgetown Climate Center Executive Director and Professor from Practice Vicki Arroyo (L’94). “When we get together for our 10th anniversary, with your continued support and engagement, we’ll be here partnering with you to help states lead on these issues.”

Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor and Climate Center Faculty Director and Professor Peter Byrne also welcomed attendees; John Podesta (L’76), counselor to President Obama, spoke with Georgetown Climate Center advisors, staff and funders earlier in the day.

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