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Climate 101 – S1E1: Lessons from California: Where we’ve gone wrong that other states can learn from, as well as where we’ve gone right

Audio by: Megan Bergeron | Writing by: Marie Hogan, Alexandra Jade Garcia  | Socials by: Wangyuxuan Xu

Mary Nicholas is the former chair of the California Air Resource Board. Nicholas was first appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2007 and was again appointed by Governor Brown in 2011 and served as chair till December of 2020. From 1999 through 2003 Nicholas also served California’s Secretary for Natural Resources and was appointed by Governor Davis. Outside of her work in California, Nicholas has served as a senior staff attorney for the Natural Resource Defense Council, Assistant Administrator for U.S. EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, as an advisor in President William Jefferson Clinton’s administration, and headed the Institute of Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. Nicholas has had an successful forty-five year career as an environmental lawyer and has played a critical role in both California and the U.S.’s progress toward healthier air quality. 

Louise Bedsworth is the Executive Director at the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment at UC Berkeley. Bedsworth also serves as a Senior Advisor to the California-China Climate Institute. She received her B.S. in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences from the M.I.T and her Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from, along with the M.S. in Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley. Bedsworth worked for over a decade for the State of California and served as the Executive Director of the Strategic Growth Council. In this position, she worked with multiple state agencies and departments to support sustainable communities, environmental stewardship, social equity, and strong economics. 

Aimee Barnes serves as a Senior Advisor at the California-China Institute at UC Berkeley. Before this role, she worked as a senior advisor for Governor Brown and served as Deputy Security at the California Environmental Protection Agency. Barnes has worked for over ten years on climate change solutions and environmental sustainability with a wide range of experience in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Throughout her career, she worked as a climate change policy advisor for the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and received the U.S. Energy Education and Empowerment Government Award in 2018 for her work in advancing climate solutions.

The California-China Climate Institute  (CCCI) is a UC-wide initiative that works to further climate action through joint research, training, and dialogue. The institute is jointly housed at UC Berkeley School of Law through its Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment. CCCI is chaired by former California Governor Jerry Brown and vice-chaired by Mary Nicholas. The institute is partnered with the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University, and the two universities work together to cooperate and implement climate solutions at all levels. 

The California Air Resource Board (CARB) is the state center for monitoring and protecting clear air quality. The board works to reduce exposure to harmful air pollutants, monitor air quality, vehicle emissions, and promote health and environmental justice for Californians. The organization’s achievements are a reflection of bipartisan efforts to clean our air through legislation and regulation of the industry and public. CARBs mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare and ecological resources while also considering economic effects in their work. One of their current goals is to reduce childhood asthma rates, as many communities in California, such as Richmond, still have Athens rats above the national average. 

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