Climate Forward 2021

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Sponsored by the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future, and GRoW@Annenberg.
Sponsored by the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future, and GRoW@Annenberg.

In celebration of Earth Day, the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future, and GRoW@Annenberg are hosting a series of conversations around advancing climate change issues. A slate of political figures, academics, scientists, policy, and industry experts will address climate change through the lenses of social justice, business, communication, and politics as we look ahead to the priorities of President Biden’s Administration. Each of the four days will focus on a different policy area that is critical to advancing climate change solutions.

In partnership with the USC Office of Sustainability, Staff Assembly Environment and Safety Committee, USC Dornsife Environmental Studies Program, USC Employee Gateway, and Unruh Associates.

Register at

Mon, April 19 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. PT "Climate Justice Roundtable"

Panelists will discuss the often disproportionate harm of climate change in underserved communities. Is access to clean air and water a human rights issue? How can people living near gross polluters gain sufficient political power to protect their health? What enforcement mechanisms exist to prevent man-made climate catastrophes from happening? Are those tools sufficient to protect vulnerable communities? How are these issues affected by related issues of housing, economic disparity, infrastructure shortages, and energy expenses?


  • Kevin de León - Los Angeles City Councilmember, District 14; Former California Senator and President pro Tempore
  • Jacqueline Patterson - Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program
  • Alison Dundes Renteln - Professor of Political Science, Anthropology, Public Policy and Law, USC Dornsife
  • Effie Turnbull Sanders (Moderator) - Environmental Justice Commissioner for California Coastal Commission; Vice President of Civic Engagement and economic partnerships, USC

Tues, April 20 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. PT "Business Roundtable"

Leaders in the business sector will discuss actions being taken to address the social, economic, and environmental risks posed by climate change. What is the role of business in contributing to climate change? Is there sufficient profit motivation for business to pursue more climate-friendly practices, and how does that profit motive square with company culture and corporate missions? Panelists will examine the real constraints on business that keep them from doing more, and potential means to overcome them.


  • Elissa Foster - Senior Manager of Product Responsibility, Patagonia
  • Amy Luers - Global Lead for Sustainability Science, Microsoft
  • Elizabeth Sturcken - Managing Director, EDF+Business - Environmental Defense Fund
  • John Viera - Former Global Director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters, Ford Motor Company
  • Joe Árvai (Moderator) - Director, USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies

Wed, April 21, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. PT "Words That Work: Red States and Climate Change"

In a time where climate change has become a partisan issue, how can we communicate the urgency of environmental legislation and encourage bipartisan support? Why are red and blue states seeing climate change differently? How should communication on climate change vary based on the audience? Are government agencies and international bodies communicating effectively to conservatives?


  • Garret Graves - U.S. Representative (R-LA)
  • Katharine Hayhoe - Climate scientist, Founder and CEO of Atmos Research
  • Bina Venkataraman - Journalist, author, science policy expert
  • Wandi Bruine de Bruin - Provost Professor of Public Policy, Psychology, and Behavioral Science
  • Mike Murphy (Moderator) - Co-Director, USC Center for the Political Future; NBC Political Analyst

Fri, April 23, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. PT "Legislative Roundtable: Climage Change in L.A."

After launching LA’s Green New Deal, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% and to lead LA to become the No. 1 solar city in the country. Recently, a majority of the USC Academic Senate voted in favor of divesting $277 million in fossil fuel assets. How should Southern California move forward on climate issues? What are the roles of local institutions and leaders in reducing the impact of climate change.


  • Ben Allen - California Senator, District 26
  • Dominique Hargreaves- Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer, Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
  • Gary Gero - Chief Sustainability Officer, County of Los Angeles
  • Sydney Kamlager - California Senator, District 30
  • Bob Shrum (Moderator) - Director, USC Center for the Political Future
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