Climate Change

Overview

Los Angeles is one of the world’s great cities; citizens and businesses from around the globe have made this one of the most diverse communities and economies found anywhere.  But another global trend – climate change – jeopardizes our many accomplishments, and our future.  Its many impacts, from global warming to changing precipitation patterns and increased risk of forest fires, are already threatening our water supply, undermining gains in air quality, and endangering human health.  There is no question that climate change is real.  That is why the City is taking steps to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions, and facilitating reductions by our community as well.

The City of Los Angeles released its climate action plan, Green LA: An Action Plan to Lead the Nation in Fighting Global Warming, in May 2007.  The Plan sets forth a goal of reducing the City’s greenhouse gas emissions to 35% below 1990 levels by the year 2030, one of the most aggressive goals of any big city in the U.S.  This voluntary plan identifies over 50 action items, grouped into focus areas, to reduce emissions.  While the emphasis is first on municipal facilities and operations, several measures address programs to reduce emissions in the community.

Moving forward, ClimateLA is the implementation program that provides detailed information about each action item discussed in the Green LA framework.  Action items range from harnessing wind power for electricity production and energy efficiency retrofits in City buildings, to converting the City’s fleet vehicles to cleaner and more efficient models, and reducing water consumption.   Information about proposed and/or ongoing programs, opportunities for achieving the City’s goals, specific challenges, and a list of milestones is provided for each action item. The scope of these actions range from those impacting only municipal facilities, such as retrofitting City Hall with high efficiency lighting systems, to those facilitating changes in the private sector, such as rebates for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances.

ClimateLA is a living document, reflecting a process of ongoing learning and continuous improvement as technology advances and City departments develop expertise in the methods of lowering greenhouse gas emissions. 

Environmental Benefits

The current focus of ClimateLA is to reduce CO2 emissions generated through the course of providing municipal services to the people of Los Angeles.  Reductions in CO2, when taken in aggregate with reductions by other jurisdictions and industries, will help slow the pace of global warming and reduce the impact on our environment.  Whenever possible, the benefits (tons of GHG emissions reduced or avoided) of each of the City’s GHG reductions actions have been calculated.  

Annual municipal and community GHG inventories will track our progress toward the reduction goals.  ELA compiles carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions inventories for non-proprietary municipal facilities and operations, and will soon have this information verified and recorded with the California Climate Action Registry for the years '04-'07.  Between 1990 and 2007, the City reduced its CO2 emissions by 7%, despite an approximate 12.5% increase in the City’s population.  Two of the primary reasons for the decrease are the City’s generation of cleaner electrical power (through the expansion of renewable energy sources) and the conservation of energy used in City buildings.

Legislation and Initiatives

The landmark California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill or AB 32) requires California to reduce its aggregate statewide GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  The state’s Air Resources Board (CARB or Board) is tasked with implementing AB 32, which is the first such law in the nation.  AB 32, and a complimentary Directive from the Governor, provides a framework for the states climate change planning as well as specific goals and mandates.  Many more pieces of legislation, both at the state and federal levels, are being introduced to address various aspects of climate change, including programs to mandate emission reductions by specific industries, and setting up markets to trade emission reduction credits.  AB 32 stipulates that the industries and facilities that produce the most GHG emissions in the state must reduce their emissions and report their baseline and annual inventories.  As of this date, AB 32 requirements do not apply to City government as a whole, but just two City departments: LADWP, which generates and provides electricity, and Los Angeles World Airports, which operates a cogeneration facility.

Partners

ELA is the lead agency for citywide climate change efforts.  As such, ELA is collecting and compiling the information and records used in the development of the City’s greenhouse gas inventories, climate programs, and policy.  The City established the Interdepartmental Working Group on Climate Change in July 2007, as a forum for City departments to exchange ideas and assist with the development of the program.  ClimateLA provides complete descriptions and implementation schedules for partner departments and organizations.  The City is partnering with the Los Angeles community to ensure robust public participation in this program. We are also forming partnerships to develop and carry out the public participation program.

On a regional level, ELA is also part of the Los Angeles Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability.

Timeline

Since our first efforts to understand and manage the City’s impact on global warming in 1997, climate change has become, and will continue to be an on-going critical focus of the City’s environmental programs for many years to come.  We expect that these climate initiatives, along with the Sustainability programs, will instill an environmental mandate into each City department’s mission, and that the City will be able to assist our residents and businesses to reduce their impact in this area.

Contacts

EAD Lead Staff:
Gretchen Hardison
Director of Climate and Air Quality Programs
(213) 978-0852
gretchen.hardison@lacity.org

Craig Tranby
Climate Plan Manager
(213) 978-0853
craig.tranby@lacity.org

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