Efforts to take more aggressive local actions on climate change through the development of a Green New Deal for Los Angeles were approved Tuesday by the City Council, while one of its committees signed off on a plan to create an office dedicated to climate emergency mobilization.
Council members Nury Martinez, Paul Koretz, Mike Bonin, Curren Price, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Monica Rodriguez introduced the unanimously approved motion directing the Department of Water and Power and other city departments to prepare a report on the development of a local Green New Deal.
“As a lifelong resident of the Northeast San Fernando Valley, I have spent my entire career fighting against the injustices in our community to leave our children with a cleaner environment than the one I inherited. Historically, when we have talked about green energy innovation, we have forgotten to include the very frontline communities that stand to benefit most,” Martinez said. “But that was then.
“Today, the Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of my motion to develop a Green New Deal in Los Angeles that begins and ends with our frontline communities,” she said after the 12-0 vote. “Together, we will guide Los Angeles toward a more environmentally friendly, and more equitable future. It is called environmental justice for a reason. By starting in our most burdened communities, from Sun Valley to Wilmington, we are finally living up to the name.”
A national Green New Deal resolution sets a goal for the nation to get 100 percent of its power through renewable energy by 2030. The council motion instructs city staff to draft a policy which mirrors the “principles and priorities” of the Green New Deal unveiled by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and backed by many of her party’s leading candidates for president, including Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
Last April, the Los Angeles City Council advanced a proposal to develop a Climate Emergency Mobilization Department to oversee efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions citywide and set aside $500,000 in funding in seed money for the project suggested by Koretz and Councilman Bob Blumenfield.
Koretz’s office in March drafted a report which offered several recommendations, including that the department be responsible for the development of metrics to measure and track the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, and develop an annual climate budget of greenhouse gasses and criteria pollutants to determine the city’s allowable annual emissions, similar to how the city’s financial budget determines its monetary expenditures.
“We know we need to dramatically ramp up and focus our efforts towards climate emergency mobilization, with all of society working towards the same goal, and a safe, just and equitable climate future,” Koretz told fellow members of the Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee.
Koretz said he is altering his proposal from creating a new department to creating an office that would likely fall under the purview of the Department of Public Works, adding that the consensus is that it is a “more appropriate first step, but it doesn’t preclude a department later if it proves that we need one.”
The committee voted to move forward with Koretz’s plan for creating the office, which would include hiring a director and establishing a commission on climate emergency. Koretz said he hoped the plan would be approved by the full City Council soon, so that the proposed office could be part of the upcoming budget talks for the 2019-20 fiscal year which begins in July.
Garcetti last year set a goal for Los Angeles to be carbon neutral by 2050.