C2ES names new President

Source: press release, 24 May 2021

Nathaniel Keohane, President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (photo: C2ES)
Nathaniel Keohane, President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (photo: C2ES)

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) Board of Directors has announced that Nathaniel Keohane will serve as the organisation’s next president, starting in July. Keohane is an economist with more than 20 years of energy and environmental policy experience in academia, government, and the non-profit sector. He will succeed Bob Perciasepe, who has served as C2ES president for the last 7 years.

“It’s truly exhilarating to have been selected to steer the course of C2ES in the coming years,” says Dr Keohane. “For more than two decades, C2ES has played a vital role as convener and advocate pushing for durable climate solutions. It has employed the expertise and gravity of leading companies in the push for stronger, durable climate policies that can raise ambition on climate action while growing the economy. C2ES has also been a leading voice and trusted convener in the international climate arena, playing a key role in securing the historic Paris Agreement. The indispensable role of C2ES will become only more critical in this decisive decade, as the decisions made by countries and businesses, both here in the United States and around the world, will determine whether we meet the challenge of the climate crisis and put the world on a path toward climate safety.”

Keohane will join C2ES from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), where he serves as Senior Vice President for Climate. He also holds a position as Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University. Dr Keohane served as Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Environment under former President Barack Obama, and previously taught at the Yale School of Management. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Yale College.

“Nat is the right person at the right time. With the Biden administration focused on setting in place now the policies that will transform the foundation of our power, manufacturing, and transportation infrastructure, C2ES will be in the centre of the action. Nat’s leadership at C2ES will be pivotal in ensuring the case is strongly made for climate solutions as an economic engine and job creator,” says C2ES Board of Directors Chair Theodore Roosevelt IV. “The C2ES Board took great care in selecting Bob Perciasepe’s replacement to be sure it had identified the right person with the requisite skills to augment the work being done now by C2ES and expand on Bob’s work and C2ES successes over the past 7 years.”

“Nat Keohane has for years been one of the most original thinkers and inspirational leaders in the climate community,” says Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund. “As leader of EDF’s climate program, he galvanised a large team to forge innovative and effective policies, brought together a broad array of stakeholders in support of those policies, and became widely known as a public intellectual in the best sense of the term – a champion for ideas that are both exciting and accessible. These qualities make him the perfect choice to lead C2ES, one of world’s preeminent climate think tanks. While everyone at EDF will surely miss Nat’s energy, acumen and leadership, we look forward to working with him in his new role. We’re in the race of our lives, and Nat Keohane is one of the reasons I know we’ll win it,” continues Roosevelt.

C2ES has been named among the world’s top environmental think tanks for 10 years straight by the University of Pennsylvania’s Global Go To Think Tank Index. C2ES’s signature efforts will continue to define it as a trusted partner for climate solutions. C2ES brings together policymakers, business leaders, and other stakeholders to advance strategies for lasting climate progress and to advocate for policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the economy.

Formed in 1998, the Business Environmental Leadership Council – the keystone of much of C2ES’s work – is the largest US-based group of Fortune 500 companies dedicated solely to addressing climate challenges.

Under the leadership of Bob Perciasepe, who will continue with C2ES as a senior advisor, over the last seven years C2ES has built strong relationships on both sides of the aisle in Congress, including testimony and briefings, and developed new and stronger partnerships with other climate focused NGOs and international climate negotiators. Working with leading companies C2ES has initiated numerous convenings around ambitious climate goals and preparations for advocating climate policy under two very different US presidents. In the lead-up to the Paris Agreement in 2015, C2ES conducted private discussions and convenings of key international negotiators to help develop the basic framework of the Agreement. Those dialogues continue as the importance of global action on climate solutions will be critical over the next decade.

“When you’ve invested so much of yourself and tied your heart to a family of people focused so earnestly on ‘doing good,’ it’s hard to let go. But knowing that Nat will be my successor is terrific, and I’m truly excited to see where he takes C2ES,” says C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “An organisation is only as good as the people who build it, sustain it, and love it. The C2ES staff is scrappy, fierce, and committed. Nurturing this team, especially over the last year during the pandemic, has been an honour and a source of pride for my time at C2ES.”

Perciasepe also oversaw the creation of the Climate Innovation 2050 initiative, through which C2ES works with its business council and other leading companies to identify pathways to decarbonise the United States across every sector of the economy by 2050. He launched the project’s flagship report, Getting to Zero, in 2019 which laid out a comprehensive policy agenda to achieve net-zero emissions. C2ES facilitated a letter to the President and Congress this past January, signed by 47 companies urging ambitious climate action and care to include stakeholders and communities often marginalised in the discussions.

In recent years, Perciasepe ensured that C2ES continued to engage in new, meaningful partnerships, including with The US Conference of Mayors to strengthen collaboration between cities and businesses on sustainability efforts across the country. C2ES focus on the role of cities and businesses in addressing the growing risks of climate impacts and strengthening climate resilience has also grown. And the annual Climate Leadership Conference and Awards, co-hosted with The Climate Registry, has become a marquee event in recognising the achievements of corporate, organisational and individual leaders in the response to climate change. The Climate Leadership Conference has continued to grow, and the C2ES Business Environmental leadership Council is as strong and ambitious as ever.

Keohane will be the third president of C2ES, which was formed in 1998 as the Pew Center on Global Climate Change with Eileen Claussen serving as the non-profit’s first president for 16 years. Bob Perciasepe has served as C2ES president since 2014, joining the organisation after 5 years as Deputy Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency.