NEW YORK – Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy announced today that former Chair of the California Air Resources Board Mary Nichols will join the Center as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow. At CGEP, Nichols will advance smart, actionable and evidence-based energy and climate solutions through research, education and dialogue. She will contribute to energy and climate scholarship at the Center and across the University, engage with the University’s vibrant student community, and participate in public and private events, workshops and lectures organized by the Center.
“Perhaps no one has done more to champion environmental protection in the US over the last half century than Mary Nichols. Mary has a long and distinguished career in public service and environmental policy and has pioneered several landmark climate initiatives, including California’s cap-and-trade program. She’s known for enacting tough, legally sound regulations on pollution control and conservation that have served as models for national and international environmental law,” said Jason Bordoff, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs and Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy. “We are thrilled that Mary will be joining the Center as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow to help advance smart, actionable and evidence-based energy and climate solutions through research, education and dialogue.”
Over a career as an environmental lawyer spanning over 45 years, Nichols has played a key role in California and the nation’s progress toward healthy air. She most recently served as the Chair of the California Air Resources Board where she led the Board in crafting California’s internationally recognized climate action plan.
“Climate change is already upon us, and even as people begin to experience the effects of a warming planet, global emissions are still rising. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to look for safe and sustainable ways to eliminate carbon from the atmosphere, and we’ll need to go far beyond business as usual,” said Nichols. “I’m proud to join the team at the Center on Global Energy Policy, an established leader taking an interdisciplinary and pragmatic approach to addressing the climate crisis through energy policy. I look forward to being a part of their work.”
CGEP’s Distinguished Fellows Program brings veterans of public and private sector life into the Columbia community. Distinguished Fellows serve as adjunct research scholars, collaborate on articles and op-eds published through CGEP, participate in public events at Columbia University, speak to campus and faculty groups, and may teach a course or supervise a student research team.
Mary Nichols is the former Chair of the California Air Resources Board, where she occupied the attorney seat. She has served on the Board under Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (1975–82 and 2010–18), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (2007–2010) and Governor Gavin Newsom (2019–present). She also served as California’s Secretary for Natural Resources (1999–2003), appointed by Gov. Gray Davis. When not working for the State of California, Nichols was a senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council; Assistant Administrator for U.S. EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, in the administration of President William Jefferson Clinton; and headed the Institute of Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. Over a career as an environmental lawyer spanning over 45 years, Nichols has played a key role in California and the nation’s progress toward healthy air. She has also led the Board in crafting California’s internationally recognized climate action plan. Nichols is a graduate of Yale Law School and serves on the faculty at the UCLA School of Law.
The Center on Global Energy Policy advances smart, actionable and evidence-based energy and climate solutions through research, education and dialogue. Based at one of the world’s top research universities, what sets CGEP apart is our ability to communicate academic research, scholarship and insights in formats and on timescales that are useful to decision makers. We bridge the gap between academic research and policy — complementing and strengthening the world-class research already underway at Columbia University, while providing support, expertise, and policy recommendations to foster stronger, evidence-based policy. Recently, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger announced the creation of a new Climate School — the first in the nation — to tackle the most urgent environmental and public health challenges facing humanity.