William Scott Becker is the highly regarded executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, a nonpartisan policy think tank founded in 2007. He works with thought leaders in science, technology and government to develop policy options for U.S. presidents and members of the United States Congress as they address global climate change and the international transition to clean energy.
Mr. Becker is a lifelong journalist who began his career at age 19 as a combat correspondent for Stars and Stripes during the Vietnam War. He earned the military’s Bronze Star Medal for his reporting under fire. Since then, he has been a staff writer and photographer for the Associated Press, publisher of his own weekly newspaper in Wisconsin, executive assistant to the Wisconsin Attorney General, counselor to the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and a senior executive at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), where he specialized in the market deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
Mr. Becker is also an expert in helping communities with “sustainable recovery” after natural disasters. He conceived and assisted in a pioneering project to relocate a flood-prone community during the late 1970s. The project became a national model of disaster avoidance by changing human behavior rather than attempting to modify nature with dams and levees. The model has become increasingly important as the world deals with more extreme floods and the other impacts of global climate change. Building on this experience, Mr. Becker created the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development at DOE, where he and his team worked with disaster-stricken communities ranging from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to Thailand after the devastating “Christmas tsunami” in 2004.
In 2012, Mr. Becker conceived and partnered with the United Nations on the global “Future We Want” campaign, which gathered ideas from people around the world on their visions for the future to help inform Rio+20, the UN’s international conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro. He has lectured and worked on climate policy internationally as a member of the late Mikhail Gorbachev’s International Climate Change Task Force, which offered recommendations to delegates participating in global climate-action negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Mr. Becker also co-led a one-year project in America’s Appalachian coal country to help residents develop a grass-roots plan to diversify their local economy as coal use declines in the U.S. and worldwide.
Mr. Becker is a published author. His books include “The 100-Day Action Plan to Save the Planet,” “The Creeks Will Rise: People Co-Existing with Floods,” and “The Indefensible Society,” which recommends sustainable development as a national defense strategy. He co-edited and contributed to “Democracy Unchained,” a collection of more than 30 essays on how to save democracy in America. More recently, he contributed to “Democracy in a Hotter Time,” which is slated for publication in the fall of 2023.
In addition, he has written a number of case studies and “how to” publications for sustainable community development, including “The Making of a Solar Village” and “Come Rain, Come Shine.” Working with former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Mr. Becker co-authored a report containing 200 climate policy recommendations for President Barack Obama, based on roundtable discussions with more than 100 U.S. thought leaders.
Mr. Becker is currently a prolific essayist for the international magazine Meer and The Hill, a daily newspaper for members of the U.S. Congress, the White House and subscribers interested in politics, public policy, business and international relations. He is a member of the Authors Guild, a senior associate at Natural Capitalism Solutions, and an advisor to the Environment and Energy Study Institute in Washington, D.C. Mr. Becker continues his work from his home near Madison, Wisconsin.