Schwarzenegger Institute Co-hosts Climate Forward: The Politics of Climate Change Conference

On April 4th, the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, the USC Center for the Political Future, and the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies hosted the Climate Forward: The Politics of Climate Change Conference. The conference brought together political leaders, scientists and academics to discuss various policies and strategies to address the changing climate. Former Senator Fran Pavley and President pro Tempore Emeritus Kevin de León represented the Schwarzenegger Institute at the conference, both speaking about their environmental work in the California Senate and their continued work at the Institute.  

Pavley spoke on the the “States and Cities” panel with former Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, former Congressman Carlos Curbelo, and former U.S. EPA Secretary and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, and moderated by Conan Nolan. During the panel, Senator Pavley discussed how she is using her experiences authoring groundbreaking environmental legislation to help state lawmakers advance their own climate legislation. More specifically, she mentioned using her role as the Schwarzenegger Institute’s Environmental Policy Director to help pass a Low Carbon Fuel Standard in Washington State and Cap-and-Invest Program in Oregon. Senator Pavley stated how important it was for state legislators to share successful law concepts with each other as climate action is best implemented at a subnational level.

Senator Pavley, the only Democrat on the panel, also mentioned the importance of effective communication, especially when speaking with people that might not be supportive of climate policies. She used the example that someone who might not necessarily believe in ‘climate change’ can still be supportive of cleaner air, lower energy costs, and higher fuel efficiency, which are oftentimes a result of climate policies. Assemblywoman Baker, Congressman Curbelo, and Governor Todd Whitman echoed the Senator’s comments and shared their own experiences as Republican elected officials.

Senator de León spoke on the “Political Climate” panel with the Founder and CEO of Helena, Henry Elkus, New York Times Climate Change reporter, Lisa Friedman, USC Professor Julien Emile-Geay, Former U.S Representative from South Carolina, Bob Inglis and panel moderator Bob Shrum.  The panelists discussed a variety of topics related to the political, economic and cultural barriers to achieving proactive climate change solutions. Senator de León closed out the panel by highlighting the Institute’s dedication to overcoming these barriers stating:

“The last huge challenge to tackle is tailpipe emissions and over at the Schwarzenegger Institute, that is what they are going to tackle- tailpipe emissions.  If we solve that, we will solve climate change- at least in the United States of America.”