Global Climate Leader Mary Nichols Joins California-China Climate Institute as Vice Chair

February 01, 2021

BERKELEY -- The California-China Climate Institute announced today that Mary Nichols, longtime global climate leader and Chair of the California Air Resources Board, will join the Institute as Vice Chair.

"Mary's experience and work on zero emission vehicles, power plant emissions, subnational cooperation, the Clean Air Act and other key climate issues and challenges will be a real asset to the Institute as we push for greater climate ambition and action here, and in China," said Institute Chair and former Governor of California Jerry Brown. "There’s a lot to do and we’re short on time. Let’s get to it."

Mary Nichols was most recently the Chair of the California Air Resources Board, where she occupied the attorney seat. She served on the Board under Governor Gavin Newsom from 2019-20, Governor Brown from 1975-82 and again from 2011-19 and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2007-2011. She was California’s Secretary for Natural Resources from 1999-2003.

“The California-China Climate Institute has created a platform for top leaders in California, the U.S. and China to share and advance climate policy at a time when doors have slammed shut elsewhere,” said the Institute’s new Vice Chair Mary Nichols. “Our climate emergency demands that we continue to push for collective solutions backed by thoughtful, actionable research and analysis. As Vice Chair, I look forward to helping lead this effort.”

When not working for the State of California, Mary was a senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council; Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’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, Mary Nichols has played a key role in California and the nation’s progress toward healthy air. She also led the California Air Resources Board in crafting California’s internationally recognized climate action plan.   

As Vice Chair of the Institute, Mary will work closely with Brown, as well as Institute staff, researchers and partners on a number of initiatives focused on carbon neutrality, zero-emission vehicles and other climate solutions. This will include participating in and shaping high-level dialogues, policy research, events and technical trainings. 

The California-China Climate Institute was launched in September 2019 and is a University of California-wide initiative housed jointly at UC Berkeley’s School of Law – through its Center for Law, Energy & the Environment – and the Rausser College of Natural Resources. It is chaired by Brown in partnership with Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs, and the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University – one of China’s preeminent research institutions. The Institute also works closely with other University of California campuses, departments and leaders. Through joint research, training and dialogue, this Institute aims to inform policymakers, foster cooperation and partnership, and drive climate solutions at all levels.