COLLEGE PARK, Md.— Allen Fawcett—an energy expert and economist who has played a leading role in formulating and coordinating U.S. climate policy—is the new director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute.
Fawcett joined the Environmental Protection Agency in 2003 and, since 2012, served as the chief of EPA’s Climate Economics Branch, which advances the science of climate economics to inform policy. From 2010 to 2011, Fawcett took leave from EPA to serve as the deputy associate director for energy and climate at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Fawcett began his appointment Jan. 8, 2024.
JGCRI is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Maryland in College Park. It brings together expertise in research, modeling and analysis to advance scientific understanding of the ways in which human, energy and environmental systems interact. Since its formation, JGCRI has provided input to the White House, Congress, United Nations and other national and international governing and advising bodies.
“Allen’s technical expertise in human-Earth systems modeling and his experience helping governments and communities draw on science and economics to make policy decisions make him the ideal person to lead JGCRI,” said Malin Young, PNNL’s associate laboratory director for Earth and Biological Sciences. “Allen sits at the intersection between science, economics and policy and is uniquely qualified to help see that JGCRI meets the needs of policy makers.”
Greg Ball, vice president for research at the University of Maryland, said, “We are extraordinarily fortunate to have such a strong, broad and collaborative research partnership between UMD and PNNL through JGCRI, and Dr. Fawcett’s policy and science expertise will accelerate JGCRI’s already remarkable success in responding to key grand challenges of our time.”
Nate Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland and associate director for JGCRI, agreed. “Allen brings remarkable experience through his leadership in the scientific community and his long record of leading teams to support domestic and international policy,” he said. “These strengths are ideally suited to deliver research impact on issues of the utmost importance today as the world seeks to respond to our climate, energy, and sustainability challenges with science-informed strategies that can create new economic opportunities and broader societal benefits.”
While at EPA, Fawcett was responsible for the agency’s economic analyses of various cap-and-trade proposals, including the Waxman-Markey Bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009.
In 2015, Fawcett collaborated with the U.S. State Department and White House on analysis of the proposed international treaty on climate change that, once ratified, became known as the Paris Agreement. His work with JGCRI scientists, published in the journal Science during the Paris meeting in 2015, was the first assessment of the worldwide impact of that agreement.
“The 2020s are a critical decade when it comes to addressing climate change—one of the most important challenges of our time,” said Fawcett. “We’re just now beginning to take truly meaningful action. But as we consider what comes next, it will be critical for decision-makers to understand interactions between science, economics and policy. This is where JGCRI can make important contributions that will make a difference for our future.”
Fawcett earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the College of William & Mary and both a master’s degree and doctorate in economics from the University of Texas. He has authored or co-authored more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific and technical papers and journal articles.