By Nicky Sundt
Nicky Sundt has joined the Government Accountability Project (GAP) as a Senior Fellow for GAP’s Climate Science & Policy Watch (CSPW) program. She is an expert on energy and climate change with over 35 years of experience and accomplishment in government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. During the four-month fellowship, Nicky will watch over and report on key US federal climate science obligations under law – especially those relating to communications to the President, Congress, and the public.
“Regardless of the Trump Administration’s dismissive views about climate change, and despite its efforts to undermine U.S. climate action, it still is bound by laws,” Nicky says. “These require climate research, data and observations, and communication – all essential to informed action by both the public and private sectors. I look forward to helping ensure that our Federal government is fully complying with the spirit and letter of the law, and is serving the public interest.”
Nicky spent most of the 1980s at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) where she was an analyst contributing to six major assessments, including OTA’s first major report to the US Congress on climate change. During the 1990s she was an editor, first with a privately published newsletter, Energy, Economics, and Climate Change; and then with a quarterly called Global Change, published by the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California.
In late 2000 she joined the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) Coordination Office as the communications manager. During most of her seven years with the USGCRP, Nicky worked alongside Rick Piltz, who blew the whistle on the George W. Bush White House and left the USGCRP to establish GAP’s Climate Science Watch. Nicky and Rick collaborated closely and frequently in monitoring what Rick dubbed the “global warming denial machine,” in advocating for a strong and effective USGCRP, and particularly in defending and promoting the crucial National Climate Change Impacts Assessments required by law. “It is really gratifying to have Nicky return to GAP at this critical time, after such a long and rich association,” says Louis Clark, GAP’s Executive Director & CEO.
Nicky left the USGCRP at the end of 2007 to join the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Climate Program. Her initial role at WWF was as Director of Climate Communications, and later as Director for Climate Science and Policy Integration; she left the organization in June 2016. “As costly climate extremes exact a mounting toll on the U.S. economy and further strain the Federal budget, the path forward is clear,” said Nicky in September 2011 on the WWF Climate Blog. She continued, “They are leaving Americans dangerously unprepared, saddled with the rapidly mounting costs of increasingly extreme weather.”
Nicky has authored hundreds of articles in the two publications she edited, and her work has been published in the The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Climate Progress, Wisconsin Public Radio, and elsewhere. She also has been interviewed and featured by media outlets such as National Public Radio and The Weather Channel.
From 1976 through 1990, Nicky spent most of her summers in the Western regions of the United States employed by the US Forest Service as a firefighter, including six seasons as a smokejumper. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (B.S., 1976, Conservation of Natural Resources; M.A., 1980, Energy and Resources).