EDF Scientist Ilissa Ocko Takes Post with Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

May 6, 2024
Anne Marie Borrego, aborrego@edf.org

Environmental Defense Fund announced today that Senior Climate Scientist Ilissa Ocko has accepted an appointment with the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, where she will be focusing on non-carbon dioxide climate pollutants, including methane and hydrogen.

Dr. Ocko, who has been with EDF for a decade and is the organization’s Barbara Streisand Chair of Environmental Studies, led groundbreaking work on the climate benefits of rapid methane action, which drives around 30% of current warming.

Dr. Ocko is a major contributor to both the scientific inquiry in this field and the efforts to bring world attention to the issue, including her widely seen TED Talk in 2021. Dr. Ocko has also been deeply involved in studying and communicating the complex issue of hydrogen as a potential climate solution, bringing the topic to center stage at  SXSW.

Dr. Ocko has been an integral part of the organization—both as a scientist and a skilled communicator. Her ability to convey complex science to both experts and non-experts alike has helped shape the conversation around methane and other climate pollutants.

“The Biden administration has made an excellent choice in selecting Ilissa to work on these crucial issues. Cutting methane is the fastest, most effective way to limit climate change in the decade ahead and I can’t think of anyone better to advise the president and John Podesta on it, and on similar issues like hydrogen,” said Fred Krupp, president of EDF.

EDF’s Chief Scientist, Steven Hamburg, praised Ocko, saying, “We will miss having Ilissa at EDF, but we’re delighted that she will be using her expertise to advise the White House on these issues. She is a fantastic scientist.”

In the office of the Special Presidential Envoy, Dr. Ocko will work to achieve the administration's mission to advance international climate change efforts and keep the 1.5C temperature goal within reach. She will serve as the Special Envoy’s first dedicated specialist on non-CO2 climate pollutants, bringing a new level of scientific expertise and insight on the impacts of short-lived climate forcers to the U.S. international climate policy.

“EDF exposed me to the value of making science both relevant and accessible to policymakers,” Dr. Ocko said. “Sound science is vital to effective decision making,” she added.

“I look forward to taking what I’ve learned at EDF into my new role and am excited that I will continue to learn from and work with professionals dedicated to averting the climate crisis using the best available science.”

# # #

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund