EESI, in the course of its work advancing sustainable solutions, also hopes to help form the next generation of environmental leaders. How are we faring? This is the first article in an occasional series, Where Are They Now, in which we will reconnect with some of our former interns and see what they’re up to today.
How many people can credit an internship for jump-starting their career in environmental policy? Scott Williamson, now the Program Management Officer for the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), says his internship at EESI helped give him a taste for energy policy, and accentuated his desire to tackle climate change issues.
An intern at EESI working on transportation issues during the spring semester of 2009, Williamson had been attracted to the environmental field since going to high school in Indianapolis, IN. “EESI offered me numerous opportunities to get my foot in the door within these fields,” he noted. One of these opportunities, he says, were EESI’s Congressional briefings, which focus on topics that range from making streets pedestrian-friendly to financing renewable energy. When asked what he liked most about his EESI experience, he did not hesitate: “I’d say the Hill briefings, and the interactions that you have with the other interns. You get a lot of opportunities to meet people.” He added, “It was a very rewarding experience—not a lot of people get opportunities like this.”
Students and career changers, take note!
Williamson says he strongly recommends taking an internship with EESI when given the opportunity. “You will definitely learn a lot, and gain a lot of experience—not just in the environmental field, but with nonprofits as well. And, the longer you stay, the more you’ll pick up,” he added.
As the current Program Management Officer for CCS, Scott Williamson oversees low-carbon planning projects, and analyzes transportation policy and macroeconomic issues. Lately, he has been working on a joint low-carbon planning project in China with the help of several foundations and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“The focus of most of our work is on working with governments to build a rigorous, long-range understanding of where their emissions are, where they will be, and how they can be reduced over time by policies that are politically and practically achievable in that specific state, city, or country. In our China project, our work is centered on teaching officials and agency staff to do this kind of research on their own,” Williamson explained.
China is becoming serious about reducing its pollution because of worries about climate change, but also because of its poor urban air quality. Back in November, Williamson was in Beijing as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting was winding up (it was at this meeting that China and the United States announced their groundbreaking climate deal). “During the meeting, they had shut down the city, and the air was actually clear. It was amazing,” he noted, drawing a contrast to his previous visits to Beijing.
When asked for his prediction regarding the potential for a global climate deal at the Paris negotiations late next year, Williamson was optimistic that China’s decision to commit to reducing its emissions would help influence other countries to do the same. “China is increasingly focused on understanding when it will hit a peak in emissions, after which point some combination of a changing economy and changing environmental policies can cause emissions to start falling,” he said.
For more information about the Center for Climate Strategies, feel free to contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Emily Jackson