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Gina  McCarthy

Gina McCarthy

First-Ever White House Climate Advisor, Former EPA Administrator, Harvard Professor & Environmental Thought Leader


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. Read More >

When leaving the Biden administration in 2022, McCarthy promised she wouldn’t “ride off into the sunset” because there is still more work to be done. She’s kept her pledge. She is currently doing a climate fellowship for her alma mater, Tufts University. McCarthy is also an advisor for private equity firms on climate and sustainability-focused investments and is working with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on climate, as well. She is also co-chairing a group coordinating climate policies between the United States and India (the U.S.-India Track II Dialogue). She most recently joined the climate initiative America Is All In as managing co-chair. In her new role, she’ll promote the Inflation Reduction Act — spreading the word about the funding that's available and getting more people to tap into it. The act provides billions of dollars in tax credits for both consumers and companies to buy clean energy technologies.

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. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Reaction to Trump's Executive Orders

Crisis Management

Environment as a Fundamental Factor of Growing the Economy

Climate Change & Environmental Protection with Bill Maher

Embracing Change

Inspiring Industries to Want Clean Energy: The Auto Industry

The Future of the EPA and the Environment

Environmental Justice

University of Rhode Island Commencement Speech 2018

Climate Change is Not a Political or Partisan Issue

Speech Topics

The Future of the Planet: Climate Change & Environmental Protection

Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy brings invaluable perspective gained during more than 30 years at the intersection of politics, science, government and private industry. In this wide-ranging talk, which can be tailored to the interests of specific audiences, she provides an overview of the current landscape and critical future. Read More >

Subject areas include: Read Less ^

  • Historic funding levels for local incentives and benefits from the Inflation Reduction Act to transition to clean energy and improve the health and well-being of families, workers, local economies and our planet.
  • America Is All In and the coalition's focus on getting all sectors of society, especially healthcare organizations and higher education institutions in Mass., to work together with municipalities to develop climate action plans and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
  • New clean energy technologies and leaders in Mass. are models for the rest of the country and the world on climate action.

ESG, Environmental Corporate Responsibility & Purpose-Driven Investment

Impact investing. Socially responsible investing. Sustainable investing. It’s a concept with many names but it boils down into an enormous challenge and an enormous opportunity for businesses today. The private sector is being driven from all sides, including investors, CEOs, consumers, non-profits and community leaders, city mayors and states to go beyond regulatory compliance and reduce their carbon footprint across their supply chains. They are being further challenged to invest in social issues, get active in their communities, invest in their employees, and establish and publicly report progress to achieve measures of success beyond stakeholder profits. The private sector is beginning to play a leadership role in encouraging and investing in clean energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and other efforts that establish private sector commitment and encourage continued investment. Combining 35 years as a public sector environmental leader and policymaker with a new focus on the increasing role of private investment in achieving sustainability and wellness, Gina McCarthy examines the challenges and opportunities of the current landscape. Read More >

Subject areas include: Read Less ^

  • Where are government policy and international discussions heading?
  • How can businesses stay ahead of government, community and consumer demands?
  • How are businesses Investing in ways that advance a culture of health and display their social consciousness?
  • How are young people and others using social media to advance purposeful investment and to encourage businesses to be more environmentally and socially conscious?
  • What is the long-term view of corporate responsibility and purpose-driven investment?

Impact Investing for a Sustainable Future

Today, companies want to look beyond their greenhouse gas footprint to investments and practices that showcase their social consciousness. After all, in today’s instantaneous, social media world, one negative story or public reaction can do enormous damage. Businesses and the investment community need to get in front—acting and investing in ways that will lead to a more sustainable future. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy takes on the “E” in “ESG” to provide an invaluable overview of what companies and investors are doing now to impact both their bottom line and the future of the planet. Read More >

Subject areas include: Read Less ^

  • Where are government policy and international discussions heading?
  • How can businesses stay ahead of government, community and consumer demands?
  • How are businesses investing in ways that advance a culture of health and display their social consciousness?
  • How are young people and others using social media to advance purposeful investment and to encourage businesses to be more environmentally and socially conscious?
  • What is the long-term view of corporate responsibility and purpose-driven investment?

Health Equity & Environmental Justice

It is little wonder that after more than 35 years in environmental leadership roles, Gina McCarthy took charge during her time at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Throughout her career, which began in local public health, McCarthy has viewed public health and environmental protection as indivisibly interconnected and interdependent. As the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, she saw the agency’s primary mission through this lens, championing a mission to safeguard clean air, water and protect Americans—especially the most vulnerable ones—from the dangers of harmful chemicals and pollutants. In this thought-provoking talk, McCarthy explores the interconnection of health conditions such as asthma and cancer in underserved communities with environmental quality and chemical safety. She also explores how climate change impacts our local communities and those around the world. Read More >

Subject areas include: Read Less ^

  • The common outcomes of health inequity and environmental injustice.
  • Community organization and its role in advocating for public health and the environment.
  • How poor air and water quality, contamination and chemical safety have greater health impacts on vulnerable populations and low-income communities.
  • Global environmental health—a look at these issues on an international level.

The Business Case for Sustainability

During more than 30 years in government service, Gina McCarthy earned the respect of the business community with her pragmatic approaches and thorough understanding of their concerns and positions. Known for framing her environmental victories as much for their ROI as an environmental outcome, McCarthy is known for making a strong case for investing in green technology, renewable energy and sustainable practices. In this data-driven keynote, McCarthy makes the business case for sustainability—proving that doing the right thing is actually good for business. Read More >

Subject areas include Read Less ^

  • How automakers and energy companies became more profitable because of regulation.
  • Sustainability as a driver of the U.S. economy and jobs creation.
  • Leading the industries of the future. Will the U.S. fall behind China as a leader in renewable energy?
  • How corporate America and the world are investing.
  • Climate change and your business. Which industries and geographic areas will be most affected? How could it impact your business model and investments?