Open and close mobile menu


Insights Addressing climate change and working with governments

As part of our #PeopleDriveResults campaign, this week we have caught up with Cathy Carr Clinch, Federal Business Unit, Civilian Sector Director, based in Maryland, USA.

image of Cathy smiling

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Cathy Carr Clinch and I’m the Federal Business Unit, Civilian Sector Director.  I’m also the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Key Account Manager. 

Why have you chosen to become involved with addressing climate change at a professional level?

I began my career in the environmental and hazardous waste field, focused on soil, water and ground water identification, assessments, delineation and remediation. I transitioned from heavy remediation to mitigation, working in ISO 14001, pollution prevention, waste management and recycling and reuse programs for the petroleum, automotive and chemical industries, as well as government agencies.

Working with business and governments, I saw the disruption storm events caused to my clients’ businesses, supply chains and customer base. This sparked my interest and passion for all hazard resilience and mitigation. As I did at the beginning of my career, I looked for the root cause of the hazard, asking questions like how can we mitigate the consequences and impacts? What is causing these severe events? What is driving up the frequency? These questions drove my career focus. It’s important to address climate change at every level and focus on making our economies, communities and families more resilient. It is literally in the world’s best interest for us to do so.

Tell us about a AtkinsRéalis project that you feel does a great job contributing to the fight against climate change and why.

AtkinsRéalis has many projects that support a healthy understanding of climate change impacts, adaptative measures and root cause mitigation, and it’s reflected in our carbon net zero (CNZ) corporate commitment. I find personal satisfaction working projects that have an element of education and enable future decision making like FEMA flood risk and resilience programs, for example. On those programs, AtkinsRéalis has developed flooding risk models and mapped flood risks across the US. These maps are used by local planning agencies to set standards for land use, focused on overall community flood risk mitigation. Home and property owners also use the maps to better understand their flood risks, which can help them develop their own mitigation measures, like buying flood insurance or addressing an engineering issue to lower their risk of flood damage. This program reflects the old adage of “teach a man to fish” for propagating flood risk and resilience.

Can you give us some examples of how you think people at home can help reduce their carbon footprint?

Early in my career I did a lot of work educating in waste management and minimization, including raising awareness for recycling at home and work. I see similar elements in our CNZ program with the education component to gain awareness and commitment from the community. As with the waste management and recycling, the younger generation drove the change in behavior both at home and in the business community. Looking at the CNZ challenge, what can we do personally to minimize our carbon footprint and play a role in addressing climate change impact?  We can think about how we travel—bike, scooter or perhaps walk. Using public transit or e-powered cars are great alternatives to gas-powered cars. Use multi-use containers versus single use. Install solar panels on roofs to offset carbon-based electricity. As we raise our collective awareness, we can find many ways to make a difference.

If humans cannot gain control over our impact on climate change, what do you think the world will be like in 100 years?

I honestly cannot fathom humans not gaining control over the impact of climate change. The question is when will humans gain control? And where will we see the climate impacts at that point? I have much confidence in the human race and our young people to change the paradigm of our carbon-based economy to a more environmentally sustainable one. We are seeing small and large steps today. I see the world as a vibrant place, running on renewable energy and continuing to explore the far reaches of our galaxy and the planet. We must learn from our past and build on our future.

What technologies do you see in your field that you think will best help us curb climate change?

I believe education is our number one means of curbing climate change. We need to educate governments on adopting CNZ goals and ideals. We need education for our scientists and engineers on alternate solutions and materials to help meet CNZ goals. We need education and acceptance for our communities, businesses and households to support the changes brought about by new CNZ technologies.