Carol Browner

International Women & Girls in Science Day: In Conversation with Carol Browner, Member of the Cervest Climate Intelligence Council

Carol Browner

Carol M. Browner is the former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy.

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 across the government, including new automobile fuel efficiency standards and the most stringent air pollution standards in U.S. history.

To mark International Women and Girls in Science Day, we spoke to Carol about what she’s working on right now, her advice for making it in science and why she joined the Cervest Climate Intelligence Council.

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 organisations 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.

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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.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in (environmental) policy? 

On one level, it found me. Growing up in Miami, in the everglades, I was surrounded by the natural environment, and it felt like an automatic fit. The idea that I could be part of protecting these beautiful places has really become a lifelong commitment. Beginning with water protection in Florida, I’ve worked all the way through to air pollution challenges on a national level at the Environmental Protection Agency and now once again by confronting the reality of climate change, resiliency, and adaptation and its intrinsic connection to clean water, I’ve come full circle to where I started. I’ve been fortunate to work with leaders who understand how important it is to our economy and our future to protect our health and environment and with really smart people along the way who know how to make it happen.

If you could give one piece of advice to girls looking to make a career in science, what would it be?

Do that which you are passionate about; it will make you get up every day and want to go to work. I’ve been incredibly lucky in loving what I do. In fact, I love it so much that I can’t stop!

Sometimes it seems that young people want a career path that is already plotted out, but opportunities present themselves without warning. My advice is to seize the moment. I took advantage of opportunities I was passionate about, driven by doing what I care about. If you care about what you do, you will both excel and do a better job.

As women, we have a different voice. Don’t be afraid to bring that voice to the conversation, even if you’re the only woman in the room. It’s an important part of being a woman. Our voices are different, and we should raise them.