The first-ever White House National Climate Advisor and former U.S. EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy is one of the nation’s most respected voices on climate change, the environment, and public health. As head of the Climate Policy Office under President Biden, McCarthy’s leadership led to the most aggressive action on climate in U.S. history, creating new jobs and unprecedented clean energy innovation and investments across the country. Her commitment to bold action across the Biden administration, supported by the climate and clean energy provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, restored U.S. climate leadership on a global stage and put a new U.S. national target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 within reach.
Throughout her years of public service in both Republican and Democratic administrations, McCarthy is credited for her common-sense strategies and ability to work across the aisle, with states, communities, business leaders, and the labor community, to tackle our nation’s toughest environmental challenges in ways that spur economic growth. and improve public health for workers and families, especially those living in environmental justice communities.
Before joining the Biden administration, McCarthy served as President and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the nation’s largest and most influential environmental advocacy organizations. Prior to NRDC, she was a Professor of the Practice of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health where she served as the Director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment. She was also a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. During this time, she engaged students and climate science thought-leaders across the faculty, as well as corporate and non-profit leaders across the world, to coordinate strategies to turn climate and health science into actions that promote a healthier, more sustainable, and just world. McCarthy also served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Energy Foundation and Ceres and was an operating advisor to Pegasus Capital, an impact investment management firm focused on climate-related investing.
From 2013–2017, McCarthy was the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Obama. McCarthy focused on using science and input from broad external engagement to strengthen clean air standards including establishing tighter standards on mercury pollution, a new EPA Clean Water Rule to protect rivers and streams that 117 million Americans rely on for drinking water, the first national standards requiring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for fossil-fuel-fired power plants, and many other policies, programmatic and regulatory efforts that demonstrated the United States’ strong commitment to protecting public health and the environment. To advance climate and environmental justice domestically and internationally, McCarthy worked to implement President Obama’s climate action plan spearheading U.S. international engagements that resulted in the passage of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase out the use of high global warming chemicals and engaged in efforts leading to the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Prior to her role as EPA Administrator, McCarthy held the position of Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation. Prior to that Presidential appointment, McCarthy was the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, where she served as Chair of the Governor’s Climate Advisory Council, developed the state’s Climate Action Plan, began an initiative called “No Child Left Inside” to introduce families to the natural world by visiting state parks, helped design and implement the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first cap and trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for power plants. She also held senior positions in the administration of five Massachusetts governors, including Deputy Secretary of the Office of Commonwealth Development and Undersecretary for Policy for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
McCarthy earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and a joint Master of Science in Environmental Health Engineering, Planning and Policy from Tuft’s University.