The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 11, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person Nov. 30.
Next is Climate Change Industry Executive of the Year (Public Company) finalist Marian Van Pelt, who’s senior vice president of climate and clean energy at ICF and ICF Climate Center senior fellow. Here, she talks key achievements, primary focus areas going forward, proud organizational moments and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2021/2022?
The need to address climate change has become much more urgent in recent years, as the impacts of a changing climate are becoming increasingly apparent. In response, public and private sector organizations have come forward with ambitious decarbonization targets. We’ve helped a range of stakeholders ⏤ from government agencies at all levels to utilities and other private companies ⏤ accelerate their efforts to address climate change.
I’m particularly proud of the work we’re doing with federal agencies to help them design and implement flagship climate programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program and the annual Inventory of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks, as well as the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s National Climate Assessment, which is the gold-standard analysis of climate impacts in the U.S.
We’ve been doing a lot of this work for years, but these programs have recently taken on new urgency. We’re also seeing new federal programs emerge. For example, we helped the Department of Energy close on a $500 million deal to fund the world’s largest clean hydrogen production and storage facility.
These large-scale federal climate programs are incredibly important to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
The people. I’m proud that I get to work with over 2,000 dedicated and passionate climate, energy and environment experts at ICF every day. I learn new things from my diverse team all the time as we work together on solving some of the biggest climate challenges facing our country and countries around the world.
At ICF, I have the pleasure of bringing together teams with deep subject matter expertise across client types and domains to collaborate and solve new and emerging climate challenges. This diverse expertise is particularly crucial in our climate work, because the impacts of climate change and their solutions also cut across client types and domains.
For example, transitioning to clean energy creates opportunities for engagement across utilities, state and local governments, the federal government, private-sector companies, and others ⏤ all working together toward the same goal. My colleagues at ICF help to make that engagement across key stakeholder groups happen.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
Addressing climate change is one of the biggest challenges we’re facing today. And, it’s an incredibly complex challenge to solve. There are no soundbite solutions. Designing rapid, effective solutions to help the U.S. continue to lead on climate action, and reduce the impacts of climate change on our people and economy, requires deep scientific expertise, data, technology and the experience of people who have been working on climate change for decades.
Our primary focus at ICF is to leverage our 40-year history working on climate programs around the world to help achieve climate goals, decarbonize economies and build resilience to extreme weather fueled by climate change.
A big part of that focus is helping the federal government implement the historic new climate programs, including those funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. One novel way we’ve been working to help address climate change outside of our client work is through the ICF Climate Center, which we’ve established to publish science-based research on climate change. Our Climate Center is focused on answering the questions that our clients aren’t yet asking but we think will be important for them in the future.