Past Speakers


Energy in America: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times


For this presentation, Kathleen Biggins, C-Change founder, interviewed Mr. Crane, former CEO of NRG Energy. Mr Crane is widely perceived as a visionary business leader trying to transform the energy business.  In a wide ranging Conversation on the nature of business, boards and personal leadership, David Crane discussed the challenges of timing, imbedded institutions and the price of technology in moving toward a low-carbon economy.


Climate Change in New Jersey

WILLIAM B. GOLDEN, National Institute for Coastal & Harbor Infrastructure

William B. Golden is the Executive Director of the National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure (NICHI). He has over thirty-five years of experience in law and business focused on environmental and energy projects, policies and programs. In addition to being a former Massachusetts State Senator, Mr. Golden has served at every level of government from the White House to City Hall. Mr. Golden joined Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed's Executive Director, Jim Waltman, to talk about climate change in New Jersey. The discussion addressed rising sea levels, extreme storms and aging infrastructure, and examined whether these are a threat to our national security and economy or a historic opportunity for economic and community development. 

Are We Already Paying for Climate Change?


Dr. Hoeppe heads the "Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Centres" division of Munich Re, the world's leading reinsurance company. He is also an advisor to the German Federal Government on climate change, serving as Chair of the "Finance-Forum: Climate Change".

Dr. Hoeppe holds a PhD in meteorology and human biology and a postdoc from Yale. He focuses his research on drivers of natural catastrophes and how to develop strategies to foster more resilient societies. His other focus is analyzing climate change impacts on insurance and financial markets. He was visiting the U.S. on behalf of Munich Re, and kindly agreed to this special event with our community.


Thawing Permafrost: What It Means

DR. MAX HOLMES, Woods Hold Research Center

Dr. Max Holmes, Senior Scientist from the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts and an advisor to the State Department on the Arctic's role in global climate came to lead a conversation in September 2015.  Max has traveled to the ends of the earth to study how the climate is changing. From the Arctic to the Amazon, Holmes is at the forefront of research on what changes are actually happening and why. He shared some of his findings about the profound effects of thawing permafrost in the Arctic and answered questions on the carbon cycle.


Sea Level Rise and Risky Business

ROBERT KOPP, Rutgers University

Rutgers University Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Robert Kopp provided us with a conversation about the risks of sea-level rise, highlighting vulnerabilities across New Jersey. Dr. Kopp directs the university's Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience initiative and is also a lead author of Economic Risks of Climate Change: An American Prospectus, as well as numerous academic reports on climate change. He is a member of the National Academies Committee on Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon, and a contributing author of the IPCC 2014 Fifth Assessment report.


The View From Wall Street: A Pragmatic Approach to Climate Change

BOB LITTERMAN, Kepos Capital

Our first Conversation of 2017 featured Bob Litterman, former head of risk assessment at Goldman Sachs and a founder of Kepos Capital. Litterman brought his expertise in risk pricing and management to the topic of climate change. An important solution to the unsafe levels of carbon in our atmosphere, he said, lies in creating “appropriate incentives for economic agents to reduce carbon emissions.” His presentation was based on an understanding that climate change poses a growing risk to society, which can and must be curtailed when we include this risk in our pricing schemes.Thank you to co-sponsors Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University Bendheim Center for Finance and Climate Central.


Extreme Weather and Climate Change

DR. STEVEN PACALA, Princeton University

Dr. Pacala is a professor in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. His research focuses on all aspects of the global carbon cycle and is in collaboration with ecologists, physical and biological oceanographers and atmospheric scientists.  He spoke to C-Change Conversations about advances in assessing the extent to which extreme weather can be attributed to climate change as well as discussing the environmental and economic impacts of natural gas.  


The Vulnerable Marketplace

BRIAN REYNOLDS, Climate Money Policy

Brian Reynolds is the Executive Director of Climate|Money|Policy, a firm that helps companies integrate the impacts of climate change into their strategic outlook. He discussed the special threats to and responsibilities of the business community in addressing climate change and how those differ from the concerns of citizens. He has found that businesses that work “climate-smart” thinking into their operations flourish on a broad number of fronts.  A New Jersey native, Mr. Reynolds has spent his career working in the fields of energy, climate and efficiency. He is a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is often found in Washington, DC and state legislative offices  pressing for sensible solutions to climate issues.  


The Relationship Between Agriculture and Climate Change

TIM SEARCHINGER, Princeton University

What are the implications of a changing climate on agriculture and our ability to feed a growing population? To what extent do current agricultural practices contribute to climate change and what can be done to mitigate these without reducing yield? To delve into these and other questions we turned to Tim Searchinger, a Research Scholar at Princeton University, serving both the Woodrow Wilson School and Princeton Environmental Institute.  Mr. Searchinger is also a consultant to the World Bank on climate smart agriculture and Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute in Washington, DC Searchinger’s work combines economics with ecology to address these issues. Most recently, he was Technical Director for World Resources Report: Creating A Sustainable Food Future.  Mr. Searchinger trained as a lawyer and spent 17 years at the Environmental Defense Fund, leading that organization’s work on agricultural and wetland policy. He has been a fellow of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, Senior Fellow of the Law and Environmental Policy Institute of Georgetown University Law Center and a special advisor to the Maryland State government on the Chesapeake Bay.


Green Investing

JIGAR SHAH, Generate Capital

We all have questions about investing in green technology.  Is it a gimmick, or an investment approach worthy of serious consideration? Which ideas are worth supporting? How do we find out about new industries and technologies?  How fast is this sector growing? What are the downsides, and what are the potential upsides? Our presentation for November focused on how investment experts view the risks and opportunities of climate change. We joined forces with the Privetera Group at Morgan Stanley to bring in representatives from Allianz Global Investors and Morgan Stanley's Sustainable Finance Team to discuss trends. Please note: this was NOT an investment seminar and did not present specific investment recommendations.

Rear Admiral David Titley_edited.jpg

Climate Change: A National Security Issue


Retired Rear Admiral David Titley is a nationally known expert in the field of climate, the Arctic, and National Security. Following a 32-year career during which he served as the Navy’s chief oceanographer, Admiral Titley joined Penn State University as Professor of Practice in Meteorology and founding director of its Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk. He also is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for New American Security. 
Admiral Titley's talk focused on the effect of changes in sea currents, navigation channels and Arctic ice flow and the challenges such changes will bring to trade routes, global security, and existing infrastructure. Introducing increased levels of risk and instability into the geopolitical landscape, these changes will require new considerations, readiness, and operation planning for the American military and intelligence agencies.


Climate Change and Refugees

ALICE THOMAS, Refugees International 

Ms. Thomas joined Refugees International (RI) in 2010 to launch the Climate Displacement Program and advocate on behalf of vulnerable communities displaced by extreme weather and climate change. Since joining RI, Thomas has conducted over a dozen independent assessments of the response to humanitarian crises brought on by extreme weather events including in Puerto Rico, Haiti, Somalia, and the Philippines. She has presented her findings to high-level government and UN officials, and at numerous think tanks, including the Brookings Institution and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Ms. Thomas has a law degree from the University of Wisconsin and a BA in History from Princeton University.


Public Policy and Climate Change

ELIZABETH THOMPSON, Environmental Defense Fund

In a year of political upheaval, we looked at public policy and climate change. What was driving political positioning on climate change? What were the possible ramifications of the November elections for action on climate issues? And, most importantly, what were the public policy implications of seismic shifts in US demographics and energy production and distribution?  
This Conversation featured Ms. Elizabeth Thompson, Vice President of Political Affairs at Environmental Defense Fund. She was responsible for EDF's engagement in the political system and led advocacy campaigns on high profile legislative and regulatory efforts across EDF program areas. At the federal level, Elizabeth and her team worked on climate policy outcomes as well as spearheading efforts to mobilize key constituencies such as millennials and conservatives using state of the art data collection and analytics. 


A Conversation


Governor Whitman served in the cabinet of President George W. Bush as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from January of 2001 until June of 2003. She was the 50th Governor of the state of New Jersey, serving as its first female governor from 1994 until 2001. Christine Todd Whitman is the President of The Whitman Strategy Group (WSG), a consulting firm that specializes in energy and environmental issues. WSG offers a comprehensive set of solutions to problems facing businesses, organizations, and governments; they have been at the forefront of helping leading companies find innovative solutions to environmental challenges.  


Weather Weirding


Bernadette Woods Placky talked about "weather weirding," and other impacts we can expect from climate change in the future. Bernadette is an award-winning meteorologist and is the director of Climate Central's Climate Matters program where she provides resources and data about the connection between climate change and weather to meteorologists around the country.  Climate Central is an independent, non-profit organization, researching and reporting on science and the impacts of climate change. 

Before coming to Climate Central, Ms Placky spent 10 years as a TV weather forecaster. Her most recent station was WJZ in Baltimore, where she earned an Emmy. Our speaker has a BS in Meteorology and a minor in French from Penn State University, where she is a GEMS (Graduate of Earth and Mineral Sciences) board member. 

C-Change Conversations is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization (tax ID 82-0839429) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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