ELI Mourns the Loss of George P. Shultz, Recipient of ELI’s 2013 Environmental Achievement Award

February 2021



(Washington, D.C.): The Environmental Law Institute mourns the loss of George P. Shultz, who received ELI’s environmental achievement award in 2013 for his outstanding leadership to reduce climate change and advance clean energy. A public official, engineering firm CEO, energy expert, and citizen, Mr. Shultz spent a lifetime contributing his renowned judgment and skill at getting things done on big environmental problems.

As Secretary of State, for example, Mr. Shultz briefed President Reagan on the need for the international agreement that became the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer from destruction by chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons widely used in air conditioning systems. He persuaded the president that it made sense to take out an “insurance policy” because the risks of adverse health effects from a thinning ozone layer, including widespread skin cancer, were serious enough to justify action. Mr. Shultz makes a similar case for action on climate change: “And it seems to me we can say to people who are skeptical, ‘Look, shouldn’t you take out an insurance policy? Maybe you’re wrong but the consequences are bad; and actually, the insurance policy isn’t that expensive.’” Watch a video of the conversation between George Shultz and former ELI President John Cruden here.

In 2013, ELI awarded George Shultz and Tom Steyer with an Environmental Achievement Award for their outstanding leadership in preserving AB 32, the California “Global Warming Solutions Act,” and in creating the Californians for Clean Energy & Jobs Network. ELI also recognized them for their individual actions to advance clean energy programs by providing leadership and funds for innovative research and policy analysis designed to develop a sustainable global energy system. The pair brought together leading organizations from all sectors of our economy and society to make environmental, economic, and social progress for future generations. Learn more about their combined efforts here.

Mr. Shultz served as the United States Secretary of Labor from 1969 to 1970, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1970 to 1972, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1972 to 1974, and the U.S. Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989. Before being appointed Secretary of Labor, he was an economics professor at MIT and at the University of Chicago, where, from 1962 to 1969, he served as Dean of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. From 1974 to 1982 he was President and Director of the Bechtel Group, Inc.

More recently, Mr. Shultz chaired the Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy, which has analyzed adverse effects of energy use on global climate and developed a range of prescriptive policies to address these energy challenges. He also chaired the advisory boards of the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy and the MIT Energy Initiative. The Institute seeks to create opportunities for scientists, engineers, social scientists, and legal and business scholars to solve world energy problems. The Initiative focuses on creating industry partnerships and a research portfolio for transformational technology development for a low-carbon future.