Climate Change

First Mover Fellow Helps White House Achieve Climate Action Goals

April 4, 2014  • Business and Society Program

On March 28, the White House released the Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Cut Methane Emissions in response to President Barack Obama’s call for action on climate change. Included in the Administration’s new methane strategy is the work of 2009 Aspen Institute First Mover Fellow and 2013 Aspen Action Forum participant Erin Fitzgerald (pictured right).

Fitzgerald is the senior vice president of sustainability for the Innovation Center for US Dairy.  She has been a driving force behind the organization’s industry-wide effort to engage the value-chain and create a more sustainable dairy industry while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks in part to Fitzgerald’s leadership, the dairy industry voluntarily has made a commitment to reduce emissions 25 percent by 2020 domestically.

Under the new methane plan the US Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Energy will jointly release a “Biogas Roadmap” in partnership with the dairy industry outlining the cost-effective, voluntary actions dairy farm families can take to turn environmental risks into new revenue opportunities while being even better neighbors. Ultimately, by accelerating the adoption of biogas technologies the dairy industry will help combat climate change by reducing emissions while providing local economies with renewable energy, natural fertilizer and other benefits.

Fitzgerald sees this new development as “a major milestone and inflection point for the innovation project” she identified in 2009 as part of her Aspen Institute First Movers Fellowship experience. She remains grateful for the support and insight she has received from her fellow First Movers and Action Forum participants.

“They asked me a lot of good questions, some I knew the answer to, so it reinforced that I was on the right track. Others challenged me to think of new angles and connections. The group also stressed that I needed breakthrough communication and support for my [innovation] project. They inspired me, motivated me, and let me know I wasn’t crazy.”

Garrett Barr was formerly a program coordinator for the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program.