Los Angeles is the second largest city in the US by population, home to almost four million residents. The city’s sprawling urban style also makes it one of the nation’s largest major cities in land area, covering 469 square miles.
Because Los Angeles is so big, it’s home to many microclimates. This means that climate change won’t affect every LA neighborhood the same way; as a rule, valleys and inland areas warm more than areas near the coast, and mountains get more rainfall. If current climate policy continues, temperatures by the end of the century in Los Angeles will be 8.2°F warmer than in 2000. This is a significant problem on it’s own — it doesn’t help that the city of Los Angeles is famous in environmental textbooks for being home to a phenomenon called the heat-island effect; this term refers to when the city’s concrete and pavement of buildings and streets absorbs heat, creating urban “heat islands.” This heat kills around 70 Angelenos every year, a number likely to rise as climate change further elevates city temperatures. Climate change will also make Los Angeles’s drought periods more severe, causing serious damage to the city’s people and ecosystems.
Though climate change may seem intractable at times, Los Angeles is certainly stepping up to the challenge. In 2019, Los Angeles’ Mayor Eric Garcetti released his city’s own Green New Deal, which sets aggressive goals for the city’s sustainable future, including complete carbon neutrality by 2050. The plan involves building a zero carbon electricity grid, with 80% of its energy from renewables by 2036, mandating that all new municipally owned buildings and major renovations be all-electric, recycling 100% of the city’s wastewater by 2035; sourcing 70% of the water locally, and planting and maintaining at least 90,000 trees (which will provide 61 million square feet of shade) severely decreasing the heat island effect. The City has already met or exceeded 90% of the plan’s near-term goals on time or early, and Angelenos have seen the results: L.A. became the number-one solar city in America, pioneered new transportation technologies, reduced the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 11% in a single year, and created more than 35,000 green jobs. More here
Los Angeles has also developed separate solar incentive programs, signed the Fossil Fuel Free Streets Declaration alongside 11 other C40 Mayors (which pledges to procure only zero-emission buses by 2025 and ensures that a major area of Los Angeles will be emissions-free by 2030), installed 2,100 publicly available electric vehicle charging stations (the most of any US city) with a plan for another 10,000 by 2022, and created a plan to purchase all electric vehicles for use as trash trucks, street sweepers, shuttles, semis, and buses. More here
The city already relies heavily on renewables, with 35% of energy consumption coming from solar, wind, and hydraulic power. LA is especially a leader in solar power with only 18% of the city’s electricity coming from coal. Natural gas is still Los Angeles’s main source for manufacturing, heating, and cooking.