Confronting Climate Change
How can California make more progress in the fight?

» Fighting Climate Change: The 6th Annual Public Policy Conference

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 
8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404

Conference is free, open to the public, but reservation is required.
Reserve Your Seat Today.

This conference is made possible by a generous grant from Fieldstead and Company.

In California, support for fighting climate change is both broad and urgent. Wildfires are destroying our communities. The rising ocean is beginning to flood our coast. Shifting weather patterns threaten many of the natural wonders that put us on the map, from the sequoias of the Sierra to the snows of Shasta.

But Californians have struggled to translate our desire to stop or mitigate climate change into real action and sustained progress. And we have yet to consider all the ways that pursuing this fight will reshape our communities and regions in economy, in culture, and especially in governance.

As the 50th anniversary of Earth Day approaches, it is time to dig more deeply into the details of the fight against climate change. How can California and its communities make more progress in the fight, achieving not just reductions in greenhouse gases but also profound changes in how we live? What sort of governance improvements do we need locally, regionally, or statewide to succeed? Is the fight against climate distracting us from other problems—like poverty, housing and education—or can the fight help address other problems? And what could be the unintended consequences and challenges for our government and our everyday lives?

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Conference Program


8-8:45 a.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404
Welcome: President Daniele Struppa

Panel 1: What Has the State Actually Accomplished on Climate Change?

9-10:30 a.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404

While the federal Government has pulled back on the fight, California has taken a multitude of actions with the goal of slowing or even reversing climate change—including SB 100 which calls for the state’s energy source to be 100% renewable by 2045. But many of those actions involve setting long-term goals via legislation. To what extent have goals been turned into results? Does the state have the right allies? Is California doing too much on its own, or not enough?

Moderator: Joe Mathews, Zocalo Public Square


  • Dr. David Vogel, University of California, Berkeley
  • Mark Murray, Californians Against Waste
  • Jennifer Hernandez,  Esq., Holland and Knight
  • Anne Simpson, California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS)

Panel 2: What Can Local Governments Do to Fight Climate Change?

10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404

Local governments will bear the brunt of rising seas and extreme weather events, but California’s local governments are famously weak. What are local governments doing to fight climate change—and what is reasonable to expect them to do? Does fighting climate change require changes in the very structure of local governance? How can local governments balance California’s desperate need for lower-cost housing with the human impact on climate? What new challenges are emerging at the local level? 

Moderator: Dr. Jennifer Funk, Chapman University


  • Rick Cole, City Manager, City of Santa Monica, CA
  • Seimone Jurjis, City of Newport Beach, CA
  • Jake Thickman, Moffatt & Nichol

Lunch: Chapman University Orange County Annual Survey

12:30-1:45 p.m.
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Conference Suite, Second Floor, Argyros Forum, Room 209 A, B, and C

Chapman University Orange County Annual Survey with Dr. Fred Smoller and Dr. Mike Moodian

Panel 3: How Do We Make Our Governance Equal to the Task of Fighting Climate Change?

2-3:30 p.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404

What strategies and tactics work best for reducing greenhouse gas emissions? To what extent can we rely on our governments to respond, and to what extent do we need the private sector to take the lead? How can the power of the market be used to fight climate change? Is it possible to make money and  help the environment? And what opportunities does climate change pose for California, in terms of economy, energy and governance?

Moderator: Dr. Sandra Alvarez, Chapman University


  • Josiah Neeley, R Street
  • Dr. Eric Fournier, University of California, Los Angeles Center for Sustainability
  • Ted Nordhaus, Breakthrough Institute
  • Dr. Robert Lempert, RAND

Panel 4: What Can We Learn From Other Countries and Cities About Fighting Climate Change?

4 -5:30 p.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404

Countries on every continent are being affected by climate change. Some, such as Sweden and Germany, have adopted ambitious plans. And many cities all over the world have sought to make themselves leaders on fighting. What can we learn from the successes and failures of other countries and cities? To what extent have various levels of government in other countries been able to cooperate to fight climate change? How have poor and marginalized communities, cities and countries addressed climate change?

Moderator: Dr. David Shafie, Chapman University


  • Dr. Richard Matthew, University of California, Irvine
  • Dr. Deborah Seligsohn, Villanova University
  • Dr. Miijin Cha, Occidental College
  • Dr. Menas Kafatos, Chapman University

Conference Panelists

Speaker Profiles
alvarez Sandra Alvarez is an assistant professor of political science at Chapman University and an activist scholar involved in peace and justice movements. She earned her doctorate in politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with designated emphases in Latin American and Latina/o studies and feminist studies. Her research focuses on critical human rights, sovereignty, feminist methodologies, and transnational advocacy networks, particularly the theory and practice of indigenous social movements across the Americas.
bento Antonio M. Bento is a professor at the Sol Price School of Public Policy and the Department of Economics of the University of Southern California. He is also a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and a research fellow of the Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy. Professor Bento received a BA in economics from the Nova School of Business and Economics (Portugal) in 1996, and a PhD in agricultural and resource economics from the University of Maryland in 2000. He previously taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2000-2004); the University of Maryland (2004-2007); and Cornell University (2007-2015). He has been a visiting professor at Stanford University and a regular consultant to the World Bank.
Cha Mijin Cha is an assistant professor of urban and environmental policy at Occidental College. She is also a fellow at the Worker Institute (Cornell University) and a senior fellow at Data for Progress. Dr. Cha's research explores the intersection of inequality and climate change, particularly labor/climate coalitions. Her current research focus is on just transition: how to transition fossil fuel communities and workers equitably into a low-carbon future. Dr. Cha received her B.S. from Cornell University, J.D. from the University of California, Hastings, and LLM and PhD degrees from the University of London, SOAS.
Cole Rick Cole has served as city manager of Santa Monica since June 2015. During his tenure, he has spearheaded work on the city council’s five strategic goals: converting the Santa Monica Airport to parkland; forging a new model of mobility; taking regional leadership on homelessness; fostering an inclusive and diverse community; and promoting wellbeing so that residents Learn & Thrive. Rick has been recognized as one of “America's Public Officials of the Year” by Governing Magazine and one of the "Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers" by Government Technology Magazine. He has won awards for municipal management excellence from the American Society of Public Administrators and the Municipal Management Association of Southern California.
Funk Jennifer Funk is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Chapman University. She has a Bachelors degree in Biology and Environmental Science from UC Berkeley and a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University in New York.  Her research focuses on identifying characteristics of invasive plant species and using that information to restore native plant communities. She is particularly interested in grassland and shrub systems will respond to drought associated with climate change.  She has worked extensively in Hawaii and all five Mediterranean-climate ecosystems.
Fournier Eric Daniel Fournier is the acting research director at the California Center for Sustainable Communities (CCSC) within UCLA’s Institute for the Environment and Sustainability. Most recently, Eric functioned as the lead data scientist on a two-year planning project funded by the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) EPIC Research Program. Eric obtained his bachelor’s of science in environmental science at Bucknell University (2008). He also holds a master of environmental science degree from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (2010), a master of arts in geography from the University of California at Santa Barbara (2014), and a doctorate in environmental informatics from UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management (2015).
Hernandez Jennifer Hernandez has practiced land use and environmental law for more than 30 years and leads Holland & Knight's West Coast Land Use and Environmental Group. Ms. Hernandez is the only California lawyer ranked by her clients and peers in Chambers USA in the top tier of both land use/zoning and environmental lawyers. In addition, she was recognized as the top environmental litigator of the year in the San Francisco Bay Area by Best Lawyers and received a California Lawyer of the Year award from the State Bar of California. She also has received numerous civil rights awards for her work on overcoming environmentalist opposition to housing and other projects needed and supported by minority communities.
Jurjis Seimone Jurjis was selected as the community development director for the City of Newport Beach in August 2017, having previously served as the city’s chief building official.  In his current functions, he oversees the divisions of planning, building, code enforcement, and real property. He oversees a department of 70 dedicated and committed full- and part-time employees with an annual budget of $13 million. His department processes and permits over $1.2 billion annually in real property investments in the city. Mr. Jurjis has spent the last 26 years working in both the private and public sectors holding the positions of chief building official, city engineer, and director of planning. Mr. Jurjis has a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering and is a licensed professional civil engineer, licensed real estate broker, licensed engineering contractor, certified building official, and licensed pilot.
Kaftos Menas C. Kafatos is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of computational physics at Chapman University and the director of the Center of Excellence in Earth Systems Modeling and Observations (CEESMO). As founding dean of the Schmid College of Science and Technology and vice provost at Chapman, he promoted and established interdisciplinary educational and research projects, and subsequently as Director of CEESMO, he led many science grants. His doctoral thesis advisor was the renowned M.I.T. professor Philip Morrison who studied under J. Robert Oppenheimer. Author, physicist and philosopher, he works in quantum mechanics, cosmology, the environment, climate change, and natural hazards, and extensively on philosophical issues of consciousness, connecting science to metaphysical traditions. 
Lempert Robert Lempert is a principal researcher at the RAND Corporation and director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition. His research focuses on risk management and decision-making under conditions of deep uncertainty. Dr. Lempert is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a convening lead author for Working Group II of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, and a professor of policy analysis in the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Dr. Lempert is an author of the book Shaping the Next One Hundred Years: New Methods for Quantitative, Longer-Term Policy Analysis.
Joe Mathews is innovation editor and syndicated California columnist at Zócalo Public Square, a Los Angeles-based media nonprofit and Arizona State University affiliate. Joe’s weekly column appears in 30+ newspapers across California. Joe was formerly a reporter at the LA Times, Wall Street Journal and Baltimore Sun, and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. He is co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It and author of The People’s Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Rise of Blockbuster Democracy. Joe also serves as co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, which will be held in Bern, Switzerland, in September 2020, and in Mexico City in October 2021. He, his wife Anna, and their three sons live in South Pasadena.
Matthews Richard A. Matthew (BA McGill; PhD Princeton) is associate dean for research and international programs; professor of urban planning and public policy; and director of the Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation at UC Irvine. He is also a Senior Fellow at IISD in Geneva, a member of the United Nations Expert Group on Environment, Conflict and Peacebuilding, and the Vice-President of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association. His research focuses on understanding and addressing human security and conservation challenges at the intersection of severe environmental stress, extreme poverty and violent conflict. He has done extensive fieldwork in conflict and disaster zones worldwide. He has given four TEDx talks and been a featured storyteller on The Moth twice. He has over 180 publications.
Moodian Michael A. (Mike) Moodian teaches for Chapman University’s integrated educational studies program, codirects Wilkinson College’s Orange County Annual Survey, and serves as an associate professor of social science at Chapman-affiliated Brandman University. Moodian is one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s appointees to the California Commission on Judicial Performance. He is the editor of the textbook Contemporary Leadership and Intercultural Competence (Sage, 2008). Moodian is the former chairman of the World Affairs Council of Orange County.
Mark Murray is the organization's lead advocate and oversees the operation of both Californians Against Waste and Californians Against Waste Foundation. Mark joined the organization in 1987 and was appointed the executive director in 1994. Mark is recognized as one of the environmental community's leading experts on waste prevention and recycling policies. Over the past 20 years, Mark has helped draft many of California's solid waste and recycling laws. Mark has served on numerous local, state and national environmental advisory boards and commissions. Mark attended Humboldt State University on California's north coast, where he gained an appreciation for the natural environment, along with a great education.
Neeley Josiah Neeley is a senior fellow in energy policy at the R Street Institute, where he advises the institute’s energy team, which works to advance a well-defined and limited role for government in shaping decisions about infrastructure; wholesale and retail electricity; research and development; fuel choice and diversity; and climate adaptation and mitigation. Josiah's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, The American Conservative, The Federalist, and the Dallas Morning News. Josiah has a bachelor’s degree in government and philosophy from the University of Texas and a juris doctorate from Notre Dame Law School.
Nordhaus Ted Nordhaus is a leading global thinker on energy, environment, climate, human development, and politics. He is the founder and executive director of the Breakthrough Institute and a co-author of An Ecomodernist Manifesto. He was among the first to emphasize the imperative to "make clean energy cheap" in The Harvard Law and Policy Review, explained why efforts to establish legally binding international limits on greenhouse gas emissions would fail in The Washington Post and Democracy Journal, made the case for nuclear energy as a critical global warming solution in The Wall Street Journal. His 2007 book Break Through, co-authored with Michael Shellenberger, was called "prescient" by Time and "the best thing to happen to environmentalism since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring" by Wired
Seligsohn Deborah Seligsohn is assistant professor of political science at Villanova University. Her research focuses on Chinese politics and on energy and environmental politics in China and India. Prior to receiving her PhD in political science and international affairs from UCSD in 2018, she worked in both the NGO and government sectors on energy, climate and the environment. From 2007 to 2012, she was based in Beijing as the principal advisor to the World Resources Institute’s China Energy and Climate Program. She also had over 20 years of experience in the U.S. Department of State, working on energy and environment issues in China, India, Nepal and New Zealand. Her most recent position was as environment, science, technology and health counselor in Beijing.
Shafie David Shafie's research and teaching interests include public policy, environmental politics, and California politics. His most recent books are Presidential Administration and the Environment, published by Routledge, and Eleventh Hour: The Politics of Policy Initiatives in Presidential Transitions (Texas A&M University Press).  He is co-author of Rethinking California: Politics and Policy in the Golden State (Longman, 2nd ed.) and he has published articles in American Behavioral Scientist, The Journal of Information Technology and Politics, and The Southeastern Political Review.  Dr. Shafie has been a Fulbright Scholar in the Republic of Azerbaijan, where he taught public policy. He is a core faculty member in Chapman’s environmental science and policy program and serves as coordinator of the environmental studies minor.
Simpson Anne Simpson is CalPERS’ director of board governance & strategy, reporting to the CEO and responsible for strategic initiatives across the $400 billion fund.  These include Climate Action 100+, a global investor alliance of over $35 trillion driving business action on climate change. Anne also serves on the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee, the Robert F. Kennedy Leadership Council, and Senior Advisory Board of the Center for Responsible Business at Haas Business School, UC Berkeley.  Among her publications is The Financial Ecosystem: The Role of Finance in Advancing Sustainability (Palgrave MacMillan) with Satyajit Bose and Dong Guo, at Columbia University. Anne was recognized by TIME Magazine as one of 15 women globally leading the fight on climate change.
Smoller Fred Smoller is associate professor of political science at Chapman University, where he has been on the faculty since 1983. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University. His major area of interest is American politics, with an emphasis on media and politics, local government, and public administration. Smoller directs Chapman’s annual local government conference and is the author of the 2018 book From Kleptocracy to Democracy: How Citizens Can Take Back Local Government.
Thickman Jake Thickman earned a bachelor of science degree in environmental science from the University of Florida and a master’s of science in marine science from Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, where he served as a senior research analyst for the New York State Resiliency Institute for Storm Emergencies in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Thickman went on to complete a fellowship through the NOAA Digital Coast program based at the national headquarters of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, focusing on coastal flood risk management and policy. As a coastal scientist for Moffatt & Nichol, Mr. Thickman now applies his background in coastal community hazard resilience and coastal ecosystem health to sea-level rise challenges in coastal areas.
Vogel David Vogel is professor emeritus, Haas School of Business, Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of several books on environmental policy and  politics in the United States, Europe, and internationally. His most recent book is California Greenin: How the Golden State Became an Environmental Leader (2018). In 2017 he received the Elinor Ostrom Career Achievement Award for his lifetime contribution to the study of  environmental politics.


Map, Parking & Accommodations

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Event Locations

Parking & Transportation

Parking and the train station are located about a 10-15 minute walk from Beckman Hall or a shuttle is available just outside the parking structure. Payment information for parking is located in the parking structure. 


Parking Lot shuttles are on a 20 minute loop around campus.


On every floor of both Beckman Hall and Argyros Forum, there are bathrooms available. 


  • Beckman Hall - this building has automatic doors and elevators to all floors
  • Argyros Forum - this building has ramps, automatic doors and elevators to all floors


Further Reading


Movies and Documentaries

  • Nash, M.P. (Director). (2010). Climate Refugees [Motion picture]. United States: LA Think Tank. Gore, A. A. (Writer) & Cohen, B. (Director). (2017). An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.
  • Robert, K. (Director & Producer). (2014). Merchants of Doubt [Motion picture]. United States: Participant Media
  • Lewis, A. (Director) & Barnes, J. (Producer). (2015). This Changes Everything [Motion picture]. United States: Klein Lewis Productions
  • Fisher, S. (Director) & Monroe, M. (Writer). (2016). Before the Flood [Motion picture]. United States: Appian Way Productions