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Climate change certification coming soon, May 12-14, 2014 forum planned

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The Association of Climate Change Officers, a non-profit group conceived by two D.C. lawyers, is on the cusp of implementing a new kind of professional credential that will cover all facets of climate change and all kinds of professionals. The Association has scheduled an inaugural forum in Washington, D.C. on May 12-14, 2014.

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The upcoming three-day forum promises over 60 experts from the private sector, federal and local government, and academia. The program will consist of two general sessions and intensive three and a half hour workshops on 16 topics related to climate change. These half-day boot camps will address climate science, public-private-partnership opportunities, renewable energy strategy and green building core concepts, among others.

A new climate change certification

The Association of Climate Change Officers has 250 individual members and 40 institutional members, Daniel Kreeger, the Association’s Executive Director, said.

Although in its infancy, the Association contemplates that professionals seeking the climate change credential will need to complete or test out of various core competencies, as well as satisfy a required amount of additional training.

The notion of training and certifying professionals to ensure competency and to identify those people with the associated expertise is not new. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, provides a well-recognized set of credentials for green building professionals.

The Association wants to train and certify professionals who demonstrate expertise in climate change issues much like the U.S. Green Building Certification Institute tests and credentials professionals for LEED green building competencies.

Expanding on the competencies of LEED professionals

As with LEED, the Association of Climate Change Officers or ACCO seeks to establish a known and reliable professional credential that represents recognizable subject-matter expertise by those professionals who obtain it. But ACCO seems to contemplate a far more extensive plan.

Kreeger explained the Association’s recently released list of competencies that a climate change professional would need to have in order to obtain the full climate change certification at a Town Hall meeting held by the Association last Friday.

“You might need a course just to learn how to get certified,” Adam Carpenter, a representative of the American Water Works Association, said at the meeting, as he pointed to the nearest wall screen and calculated out loud the number of hours of training that would be required.

“It’s like going to college with a certain number of core credits and a certain number of effective requirements,” Kreeger said.

But someone interested in only supply-chain issues or renewable energy credits, for example, could satisfy the training requirements and get a “black-belt” in those specific areas without receiving the full climate change credential, Kreeger said.

Parallel efforts to create climate change certifications are under way

ACCO hopes to partner with other groups, such as government, other non-profits and academic institutions.

At Friday's meeting, Paul Wagner, a biologist with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said he is working with a group of federal leaders at the Office of Personnel Management to develop a pair of new leadership and climate change certifications for government and non-government workers.

These efforts come at a time when government and businesses are increasingly paying attention to climate change issues. The United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change has released three reports since September 2013 on the issue of climate change.

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