Tag Archives: Climate change

20 Years as Executive Director – Looking Back, Looking Forward

Lara Iglitzin headshot arms sm fileThis week marks 20 years for me at the helm of the Jackson Foundation.  I’m proud and honored to have served as Executive Director for two decades.  During my tenure, I’ve had the good fortune to work with my dedicated Board members and great staff on any number of meaningful activities.

My personal highlight reel includes a 1995 Jerusalem conference celebrating the ground-breaking Jackson-Vanik Amendment  — which helped over a million Soviet Jews emigrate from the USSR.  That conference attracted hundreds of Soviet Jewish emigres now living in Israel as well as a host of Israeli and American politicians, including the late Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin, who was assassinated only months later.  Since I wrote my Master’s thesis on Senator Jackson’s legislation and the story behind it, that conference had tremendous significance for me.  The famous Jewish dissident from the Soviet era, Natan Sharansky, worked closely with us on the conference, and our Chairman, Helen Jackson, joined us in Jerusalem.  It was unforgettable.

photoedited
Helen Jackson, Lara Iglitzin, and Natan Sharansky in Jerusalem in 1995

I’ve also reflected on the role that the Foundation has played to strengthen the Jackson School at the University of Washington.  Dozens of policy conferences, graduate fellowships, the Jackson Professorship, the Golub Chair, lecture series, the new PhD program, the Helen Jackson Chair in Human Rights – we’ve helped usher in key changes at the Jackson School.  As a graduate of the School, it has meant a lot to me to help the University do what it does best:  provide first-class education to young people, in this case our future leaders in international policy.  It has been a richly rewarding relationship, one that makes me highly value the intellectual depth of the faculty at the Jackson School.

Lara meets with Jackson School students
Lara meets with Jackson School graduate students this fall.

We started supporting human rights in Russia over 20 years ago – after the break-up of the Soviet Union.  In the more than two decades since, we’ve watched the ups and downs of civil society in Russia with alarm, and our grant making and programs have changed dramatically in response to events.  That’s a sadness to remark upon, given the downward trend in rights under Putin’s Russia.  We are still raising our voice on that front, however! Last year we brought a group of civil society leaders from Russia to Seattle and Washington, DC under a grant from the U.S. State Department.  This trip was inspirational for the delegation and continues to provide encouragement and ideas for these dedicated individuals back in Russia today.

Jackson Foundation 2014 Russian NGO Delegation
Jackson Foundation 2014 Russian NGO Delegation in Seattle

Lately we have two new programs which have galvanized the Board and staff:  the first is helping to lend our resources and intellectual fire-power to the climate change world, focusing particularly on the national and global security implications for the U.S. around climate.  The Jackson name lends credence and balance to discussions on this critical issue.  We are helping to leverage our work by highlighting the military viewpoint and bringing other foundations to the table.  This is a new area for me and it has been wonderful to be challenged to learn more about the climate field.

Washington D.C. Climate Change and National Security Briefing
Washington D.C. Climate Change and National Security Briefing

Second, we have launched an initiative to train a new generation of Jackson-inspired young people, with the launch of the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program.  It’s been invigorating to choose and begin to mentor the eight outstanding young professionals who comprise our first class here in Seattle.  I’ve been energized by my interactions with each of them and feel it is one of the most exciting initiatives that the Foundation has embarked upon.

Jackson Fellows with Anna Marie Jackson Laurence and Foundation President John Hempelmann
Jackson Fellows with Anna Marie Jackson Laurence and Foundation President John Hempelmann

It’s easy for me to think of the extended Jackson community as a family – one that includes our Board members, past and present, as well as former and current staff members of the Foundation, and “Scoop’s Troops” – those who worked with Jackson on his own staff or on one of his committee staff positions.  It also comprises our many partners and grantees over the years, at the Jackson School, the National Bureau of Asian Research, the Kennan Institute, City Club Seattle, and countless other colleagues.  It’s an engaging group and one that has a remarkable cohesion because of the respect for Senator Jackson that unites everyone.  It has made this a great place to work.

One thing I’ve learned at the Foundation over the course of the last twenty years– while the specific programs may change, the work in international affairs, environment and energy, human rights and public service still are highly relevant in today’s world.

I look forward to working together with all of you to carry on the Jackson legacy.  I hope you’ll get in touch.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Leadership at its best

Larry Phillips, the chair of the Metropolitan King County Council here in Washington State, announced his intention not to seek reelection in Fall 2015.  Larry, a board member of the Jackson Foundation, has shown outstanding leadership in our region.  His role as an exemplary public official should be acknowledged.

For two decades Larry has been active in transportation, clean energy and jobs creation, providing a reasoned, informed and highly competent voice for our community.  Always energetic and passionate about issues, Larry has been an important leader in conserving the natural resources of the Puget Sound that we all value.

King County Council Chair Larry Phillips
King County Council Chair Larry Phillips

We at the Jackson Foundation have been fortunate to have Larry associated with us as well.  Two years ago Larry approached the Board with the idea of exploring the connection between climate change and national security threats, an emerging issue.  Given the Jackson legacy in both environmental resource management and national security, this was a natural fit for us, and with Larry’s involvement, we have pursued this topic seriously.  In June 2014 we partnered with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on a high-level symposium, “The Intersection of National Security and Climate Change,” which brought together 40 leaders from federal agencies, state and local governments, NGOs, business, and academia.  Our report was widely disseminated.  This past February we joined with the Center for Naval Analyses and its Military Advisory Board for an in-depth briefing to ensure that the military voice is being heard in the climate change and national security discussion and to advance the political process in the U.S.  Later this spring we will convene other foundations nationally to inform them on the security implications of climate change.  Larry was deeply engaged in these programs.

We know that Larry will remain active as a leader in our region, but we will miss his voice in his official capacity as chair of the Metropolitan King County Council.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

 

Now available: China’s Energy Crossroads Program

A few weeks ago the Jackson Foundation partnered with NBR on the launch of NBR’s new publication, China’s Energy Crossroads, the 2014 Energy Security Report.  We wrote about that Washington, DC event here.  Today we draw your attention to the edited audio from the session, which featured opening remarks by John Hempelmann, President of the Jackson Foundation, and Admiral Dennis C. Blair, member of NBR’s Board of Directors.

John Hempelmann, Foundation President
John Hempelmann, Jackson Foundation President

John Hempelmann opened the day by placing the topic in context:  “Secretary of State John Kerry recently described the U.S.-China relationship as ‘the most consequential in the world today. Period.’” John went on to underscore how that relationship meant that the U.S. and China must work together and strengthen their understanding of one another.  “Undeniably, energy plays a growing role in this relationship,” John concluded.  “As the world’s largest consumer of energy across a broad range of fuel choices, China is a key player in any discussion of energy security.”

Gannett on Panel 2_Wide ShotLi Bin, Counselor for Economic Affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., reiterated how fundamental this issue is to the current Chinese government: “China is very serious about the shift from relying on investments in pollution-producing energy to something more sustainable.  China must strive for less emphasis on coal as well as using the direct utilization of coal in a more environmentally-friendly manner.”  Li Bin also described how pollution and climate issues have become central to politics at the local level in China:  “The reduction of emissions is now very important for local leaders.  They have signed on to targets with the central government.  If targets are not reached, there will be a conversation between local leaders and central government officials.”  Edited audio for this panel can be found here.

(l to r) Mikkal Herberg, NBR; Li Bin, Embassy, People’s Republic of China; Joanna Lewis, Georgetown University; Craig Gannett, Vice President, Jackson Foundation

Craig Gannett, the Foundation’s Vice President, spoke on a panel focused on U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change.  Commenting on the U.S. approach to climate change today, Craig characterized the U.S. as “making clear progress, but it’s messy and non-linear.”  Reflecting on the Obama Administration’s multi-step process toward climate policy, Craig described the Administration’s climate action plan as very broad.  “The centerpiece of the policy is new regulations under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act for existing power plants, which call for a 30% reduction of emissions below 2005 levels by 2030.”  Craig explained that since these rules have both “inside the fence” regulation – at the power plant itself, as well as “outside the fence” – in the economy’s demands for electricity – the EPA’s ability to regulate will be challenging.  “This is outside the ordinary domain of EPA, whose core authority is large sources of emissions.  To have EPA be responsible for a plan that is economy-wide is very ambitious and legally uncertain,” Craig explained.  “There is genuine jeopardy to the ‘outside the fence’ portions of that rule.”  He predicted that the rule, which becomes final next June, with state implementation the following June or later, will eventually come before the U.S. Supreme Court.  “It may survive, it may not.  It probably depends on who the next president is and therefore who replaces a couple of aging Supreme Court justices.”

To hear the entire audio of this very interesting session, please go to NBR’s Event site.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

China’s Energy Crossroads

Earlier this week, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and the National Bureau of Asian Research launched NBR’s 2014 Energy Security Report at an event entitled “China’s Energy Crossroads:  Forging a New Energy and Environmental Balance.”  The event in Washington, DC, attracted a large, diverse, policy-oriented crowd with a particular interest in Asia-Pacific affairs and China’s growing energy demands.

Admiral Blair and John Hempelmann
Admiral Dennis C.  Blair and John Hempelmann, Foundation President

Admiral Dennis C. Blair, former United States Director of National Intelligence and member of NBR’s Board of Directors, started the day with a note of optimism on a few fronts:  one, the recent joint announcement by the U.S. and Chinese government outlining steps each country will take to reduce carbon emissions and the warming of the global climate.  This “bright spot” in U.S.-China relations, as another speaker referred to it, will provide leadership to other major countries on climate change politics.  He also emphasized that the Chinese middle class, increasingly vocal and unhappy about air and water pollution in China, is being heard by Chinese political elites and is contributing to a sense of urgency about the need to act on China’s environmental challenges.

Gannett on Panel 2_Wide Shot
Panel on China’s Energy Policy and Its Impact on U.S. – China Relations

I was struck at the event by the monumental nature of the challenge that China faces today, and the truth in the title – a crossroads – and its implications not just for China, but for the world.  China no longer has the luxury – to the extent that it had it at all – of focusing primarily on growth without regard to environmental consequences.  It must face the results of its laser-like intensity to grow the economy.  The good news is that China’s political elites are well aware of this now.  The more difficult part is figuring out how to deal effectively with all the myriad problems this poses:  to the healthcare system, to China’s regional partners and global allies and rivals, to domestic political concerns within China, to its military and strategic thinking as it seeks to reinforce its current energy resources and explore new avenues beyond fossil fuels.  China’s energy demands continue to be a driver of both foreign and domestic policies and a spur to innovate.  Its decisions will impact America, other regional powers in Asia, and beyond.

Mikkal E. Herberg and Li Bin
Mikkal E. Herberg, NBR and Li Zhidong, Nagaoka University of Technology

NBR’s 2014 Energy Security Report discusses these interconnected concerns in a series of highly readable, policy-oriented briefs intended to inform policymakers, energy specialists and Asia-watchers.  Free copies of the report are available here.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

 

Climate Change and International Security: What are the implications for policymakers?

The Jackson Foundation and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) had a closed-door symposium that focused attention on the intersection of national security and climate change and how to better prepare decision-makers to act.  The extraordinary gathering of high caliber individuals representing federal, State and local government – including the U.S. military – as well as businesses, NGOs and academia, convened to highlight the urgency of climate change and its impact on our country’s national security.

Alice Hill, White House Senior Advisor, and Mike Kluse, director of PNNL
White House Sr. Advisor, Alice Hill & Mike Kluse, Director of PNNL

Why this topic?  For starters, Senator Jackson was an early voice raising concerns about our nation’s energy resources and national security.  His environmental legacy included a sweeping view of what it meant to manage environmental resources wisely, and he also had vision and perspective that encompassed changing global trends in energy use as well as security needs.  That perspective is lacking today in Washington, DC.  The Foundation and PNNL sought to underscore the interconnectedness of global climate changes and security threats such as reduced water resources, population migration, extreme weather events, political instability due to diminished food resources, and the like.  The U.S. military has this first and foremost on its radar, as was evidenced by the top-level representatives at the symposium.

Rep. Adam Smith and Hon. Norm Dicks
Rep. Adam Smith and Hon. Norm Dicks

The White House has taken a public stand and is trying to light a fire on this issue nationally.  Alice Hill, White House Senior Advisor for Preparedness and Resilience, pressed the point:  “The workshop participants emphasized the urgency of addressing climate change and its impacts on our country’s national security and determined that it is critical to take immediate action.”  The Foundation and PNNL intend to pursue this issue and ensure that it remains front and center before policymakers in Congress as well as state and local governments.

King County Council Chair Larry Phillips
King County Council Chair Larry Phillips

As Congressman Adam Smith said, “We can’t separate this out and say climate change is an energy problem and not a national security problem.”  Larry Phillips, Foundation Board member and Chair of the King County Council, has been a leader in thinking strategically about climate impacts in the greater Seattle region.  He concluded:  “We have a duty to lead on threats from climate change that are making us vulnerable now.”

Craig Gannett, Jackson Foundation Vice President
Craig Gannett, Jackson Foundation Vice Pres., at press briefing

The Jackson Foundation and PNNL sponsored a press and public briefing the day after the symposium on June 5.  Watch the event here.

We are holding a Washington, DC briefing on July 29 at the Woodrow Wilson Center to further highlight the national security threats posed by climate changes today as well as tomorrow.  Look for more information coming on that event soon.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director