Former US presidential advisor and alumnus returns to campus to spark clean tech innovation

USC Dornsife alumnus David Livingston speaks at the Climate Forward conference. Photo by Nick Neumann/USC Dornsife Wrigley Institute.

By 2030, Holcim, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of building materials, will swap 1,000 of their diesel trucks for zero-emission vehicles. Microsoft has pledged to purchase nearly 300 million tons of carbon dioxide removal credits over the next 11 years.

These commitments, and many more, arose from their participation in the First Movers Coalition. Comprising more than 100 of the world’s largest corporations, the coalition has made commitments to buy next-generation clean technology goods and services in industries like steel and shipping. The idea is that this large-scale demand will ramp up production, lower the cost of these goods and help build a more sustainable market.

It’s a project developed in part by David Livingston, who graduated from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in international relations in 2010.

Livingston served as a senior advisor and managing director for energy in the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, then headed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, where he helped launch initiatives like the coalition.

He recently helped USC students learn how to advance this sort of forward-thinking, market-friendly environmentalism by serving as the inaugural innovation and sustainability practitioner in residence, based out of the USC Dornsife Environmental Studies program.

“I’m passionate about the environment, not just from an angle of conservation, but also on the frontiers of societal and technological change,” he says.

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