Today, the City of Los Angeles and Mayor Garcetti released the latest update to the Sustainable City pLAn (the pLAn). An initiative started by Garcetti in 2015, this year’s release marks the fourth annual update on the city’s progress to push towards cleaner energy and transportation options.
This pLAn lays out the most ambitious and achievable climate goals for the city to date. More importantly, it responds to the urgency of the climate crisis with a vision that will invest in our local workforce and economy while tackling the ongoing poor air quality that Los Angeles and other Southern California communities continue to breathe as the worst region for smog pollution in the country.
The topline impact of the plan is carbon emission reductions. Scientists are telling us that as a planet, we need to reduce emissions by 50% before 2030. That means that leaders at every level of government need to take charge in getting emissions targets there first, inspiring and showing the rest of the world how to do it. Los Angeles and Mayor Garcetti have set a target for reducing emissions 50% below 1990 levels by 2025, while reducing emissions 73% by 2035 and aiming for carbon neutrality in 2050. In short, Los Angeles is leading on climate and doing its part to bring about a clean energy economy.
Climate targets and emission reductions are only one side of the clean energy economy. Green jobs that pay family sustaining wages or good union jobs, are the other side of the clean energy ecosystem. With clean energy investments we will need thousands of technicians, electricians, energy experts and engineers to design, build and maintain the clean energy economy. The pLAn is what a Green New Deal looks like in practice. For one of the nation’s largest cities, the pLAn is smart economic policy and workforce development policy. It helps ensure that as we invest in our future we’re also investing in our workers and working families.
So what’s good and new in the pLAn? Lots, but here are some of the highlights.
100% zero carbon electricity by 2045
100% zero carbon transportation system by 2050
100% zero carbon buildings by 2050
Going a bit deeper, the plan has dozens of interim benchmarks to measure progress beginning in 2021. Some of our favorites? The city plans to install 3,000 MW of storage by 2035, while down at the port of Los Angeles, 100% of the drayage trucks will be zero emission.
The pLAn presents a vision of Los Angeles where renewable solar and wind can power clean vehicles while providing heat and power to clean buildings. A complete clean energy ecosystem. On their own, each goal is worthwhile and critical for the city to reduce its carbon impact and improve local air quality. But together, the pLAn shows a future where our investments in sustainable energy, clean transportation, and clean buildings can provide the greatest emissions and carbon benefits, while reinvesting in our local workforce as we make the necessary investments to our grid, transportation infrastructure and building stock.
Sierra Club, along with our partners and community leaders, helped the city achieve previous climate targets and will continue to stand and work with the city, its agencies, and staff to make the pLAn a reality, ensuring its public health benefits are felt by communities at the front line of pollution and climate threats.
Back in 2013, when the City first announced it was moving off of coal fired power, many questioned the ability for renewables to take the place of fossil fuels. Rooftop solar and utility scale renewable projects were not as commonplace as they are today. Now, just six years later, the City draws 30% of its power from renewables and with this updated pLAn, the City and Mayor Garcetti are once again making good on that promise of a green and clean future. At the time, moving off of cheap coal seemed unreasonable, but today, the lower cost of wind and solar power are proving skeptics wrong.
To understand the true human cost of not doing this as quickly as possible, just look at the horizon on a smoggy LA day. As the American Lung Association’s recent report finds, Los Angeles continues to have the nation's worst smog (also known as ground-level ozone). As our city experiences a greater number of extreme heat, the pollutants that create smog and its negative health effects are amplified and exacerbated. Over one million Angelenos are at risk for adult asthma, and Los Angeles is now the nation’s top city in new childhood asthma cases. Last year alone, Los Angeles county residents had to breathe through 209 days of unhealthy air. The legacy of our push towards sustainability and the Green New Deal has yet to be written. But with the bold vision of the pLAn, Angelenos can look forward to a clear summer day, sans smog.
Mayor Garcetti has laid the roadmap for a cleaner and greener Los Angeles. A vision of the future still abundant with sunshine and mobility, but now a fossil free future that Angelenos can look forward to with clean air and a healthier environment.
The progress like this takes a village. Los Angeles is fortunate to have a diverse community of advocates and local leaders that have helped make this Green New Deal for Los Angeles possible. Including, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 11, Labor Network for Sustainability, the Los Angeles County Electric Truck and Bus Coalition, and many others.
Join us in thanking Mayor Garcetti and the City of Los Angeles on this pivotal and bold action pLAn for a greener and cleaner future.