By Michele Fetting

Vice Chair, Board of Directors
Climate Institute

It has been a challenging few years for the Climate Institute as we suffered the loss of three of our longstanding pillars of leadership: John Topping, Jr., Samuel Shearer and Sir Crispin Tickell.

They all made significant contributions to the work of global climate change and sounded the alarm for decades through scientific research, strong partnerships and friendships. Their work laid the groundwork for what the organization is today and for the important contributions the Climate Institute will make in the future. We stand on their shoulders as we launch a new website and emerge from several challenging years with very exciting work underway.  We would like to recognize the loss of these outstanding individuals and look back fondly on the contributions they made to the organization and the important work of global climate change.

Climate Institute President, John Topping, Jr. The Climate Institute is heartbroken to share news of the death of our founder and President, John Topping Jr, who served as President of the Climate Institute from its founding in 1986 until his death on March 9, 2021.

From 1989-1990 Topping served as editor of portions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) First Assessment Report. He received a Certificate from the IPCC for contributing to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize of 2007 to the IPCC. 

Topping was the former Staff Director of the Office of Air and Radiation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Reagan administration. He earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Yale University. In 2002 he received Dartmouth’s first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award for Lifetime Achievement. Topping is the editor of two volumes on climate change: Preparing for Climate Change (1988) and Coping with Climate Change (1989) and co-editor of Sudden and Disruptive Climate Change: Exploring the Real Risks and How We Can Avoid Them (2008).

More information on John Topping’s remarkable life and work can be found in his obituary in the New York Times here.

Chairman of the Board, Sir Crispin Tickell

The Climate Institute is devastated about the loss of its Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sir Crispin Tickell and dear friend of John Topping who died on January 25, 2022. Tickell was involved in many initiatives with the Climate Institute, including the creation of multiple Climate Theaters in Mexico and Dubai. Sir Crispin also collaborated with the Climate Institute team on the world’s highest climate observatory atop Sierra Negra peak in Pico de Orizaba National Park in the State of Puebla. 


The Climate Institute was honored to have the benefit of Sir Crispin Tickell’s leadership and his efforts to achieve widespread public education in climate science. His work has helped to catalyze climate protection efforts in the U.K., the U.S., Mexico and the world.


Sir Crispin’s other credentials include:

Director of the Policy Foresight Programme of the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization at the University of Oxford

Former United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Former British Ambassador to Mexico and Permanent Secretary of the Overseas Development Administration


Read his obituary in the U.K. Sunday Times here

Climate Institute’s Chairman of the Board, Sir Crispin Tickell (right), was on the panel of judges for Virgin Earth Challenge with Al Gore and Sir Richard Branson.

Senior Fellow, Samuel Ayers Sherer

Another tremendous loss for the Climate Institute was the passing of Mr. Samuel Sherer on January 18, 2021. Sam was a treasured friend and mentor for many past Climate Institute interns and fellows. He helped ensure their experiences were fulfilling and often built connections that led to employment.
Attorney Sherer was active in a wide range of policy studies and initiatives from land use planning, minority business development to climate issues. He worked at the Institute for Community and Liberty, developed infrastructure in Jakarta, Indonesia, helped codify the Egyptian Housing Code, and made major contributions in over two dozen countries around the globe. He was also a longtime member of the Ripon Society. Sherer was a 1966 graduate of Oberlin College and of Harvard Law School. He earned a Master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Mr. Sherer was editor of the Harvard Law Review and a partner in the Washington DC law firm of Topping, Sherer and Mitchell from 1977 to 1986. He was instrumental in the formation of the Climate Institute where he served from 1986-2021, as a Senior Fellow. He will be remembered as a beloved mentor for many interns and research fellows. 
Samuel Sherer (far right) along with John Topping, Nasir Khattik, Mark Goldberg meeting with interns.

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