As Earth Month kicks off, experts aim to “bridge divides, share solutions”
From left, former U.S. Reps. Val Demings and Adam Kinzinger, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens and former National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy will speak at Climate Forward 2023. (Composite: Letty Avila. Photos: Courtesy of Demings, Kinzinger, Stephens and McCarthy.)

As Earth Month kicks off, experts aim to “bridge divides, share solutions”

Annual Climate Forward conference features former U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Val Demings, former White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and New York Times columnist Bret Stephens.
ByDarrin S. Joy

Next week, Republican former U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Democratic former U.S. Rep. Val Demings will meet at USC to discuss the politics of climate. Their goal: “finding common ground.”

Air quality expert Gina McCarthy, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the inaugural White House Climate Advisor, will also search for commonality in climate conversations with Bret Stephens, New York Times opinion columnist and editor-in-chief of the journal Sapir.

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The panel discussions are part of Climate Forward Conference 2023 – Bridging Divides, Sharing Solutions, which begins at noon on April 4 at Town and Gown on USC’s University Park Campus. USC President Carol L. Folt and USC Dornsife Dean Amber D. Miller will kick off this signature USC Earth Month event with welcome and introductory remarks.

Moderated by Robert Shrum, director of the Center for the Political Future at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Kinzinger and Demings’ dialogue embodies the center’s mission to “advance civil dialogue and research that transcends partisan divisions and finds solutions to pressing national and global challenges.”

Said Shrum: “We’re in an ‘all hands on deck’ situation with the growing climate crisis, and we’re honored to have Adam and Val join us this year and set an example of bipartisan cooperation.”

Joe Árvai, director of the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, based at USC Dornsife, moderates the McCarthy-Stephens conversation, which aligns with the Wrigley Institute’s focus on advancing “meaningful, nonpartisan change to save our planet.”

“Curbing climate change requires a wide range of expertise in policy and science as well as skilled communicators,” Árvai said. “I’m really looking forward to learning from Gina and Bret’s knowledge and experience in these areas.”

Launched in 2019, the annual Climate Forward conference gathers notable experts to explore politically realistic solutions to address the challenges associated with a changing climate. Past speakers include former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Sponsors for this year’s installment include the Wrigley Institute, the Center for the Political Future and the nonpartisan nonprofit Common Ground Committee, which works to build a stronger nation by motivating the public to reduce incivility and polarization.

Register for the free Climate Forward event here. The conference is available via Zoom and livestream for those who cannot attend in person.