Kent's Climate Tour

My solo bike tour exploring climate change solutions

LA Climate Day conference

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My timing was good as I swung back through LA on my way north from San Diego.  A few hundred community and organizational leaders assembled Friday (Nov. 6) for Climate Day LA at the LA Cathedral’s conference center. Organized by Climate Resolve and ecoAmerica, the purpose was to mobilize participants to advance their piece of the climate solution movement and encourage collaboration with colleagues in other fields. An impressive lineup of speakers updated us on recent climate policy developments and the latest thinking about bringing our message to a wider audience. Throughout the day we learned about the wealth of activities going on in our area and across the nation to address climate change and the huge challenges we face addressing this unprecedented emergency. Some highlights follow.

Climate Resolve Exec. Dir. Jonathan Parfrey led off with the encouraging news of President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline and described the work his local organization is doing.

Alex Hall from UCLA summarized recent studies that his team has done to identify the impacts of climate change on specific areas of Southern California.  This includes detailed heat maps of our region (below).

ecoAmerica’s Bob Perkowitz summarized their 13 principles for communicating about climate change, excellent guidelines to help us avoid some of the pitfalls when communicating about climate change. Their research suggests that most people take their cues on issues like this from their “tribe”, so a good strategy is to bring our message to the leaders of various groups.

He also reported the promising news that PG&E is on record supporting the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan

Bob Swords described the LA Clean Tech Incubator, a top-rated facility of its type in the nation with state-of-the-art facilities in Downtown LA supporting small business clean tech ventures, including the advice of executive mentors in residence.

Councilmember Laura Friedman from Glendale and CA Air Resources Board member Hector De La Torre stressed the absolutely essential role that advocates play in lobbying for and supporting climate action policies. Opponents are so well-funded and well-connected that our voices must be strong and persuasive to counter their business-as-usual agenda.
Several speakers reminded us of the strength that comes from diverse fields working together to promote climate solutions, including health care, business, academia, local government, environmental groups and the faith community. A LA Declaration on Climate Action was proposed and we broke into the above groups to refine the document, the final version of which should be viewable here by Nov. 16.  I was in the group representing environmental organizations, ably facilitated by my old friend Ron Milam (below).

The procedings culminated with directing our attention to the UN Climate Conference in Paris coming next month, encouraging us all to go to #EarthToParis to send messages to the world leaders who will be convening there.

Here are some solutions heard in the course of the day:

– Transportation is SoCal’s single biggest contributor to CO2 emissions. We need to embrace the expansion of public transit, biking and walking. Sales tax measures (Measure R2) being considered for the 2016 ballot could prove instrumental in accelerating the expansion of our transit systems.

– The University of California system has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025.

– Dignity Health Care (320 facilities nationwide) has committed to ambitious carbon reduction goals.

Senate Bill 350, signed into law earlier this year, requires that California produce 50% of its utility energy from renewable sources by 2030.

– The City of LA now requires that new and refurbished roofs in Los Angeles be “cool roofs” which have multiple benefits for both building occupants and the planet.

Divest Invest is a movement that encourages investors to divest from dirty energy and invest in clean sources. 430 institutions and 2,040 individuals representing $2.6 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies.

I’m glad that I was able to participate in this timely event.  It brought together a talented, committed community of groups and individuals working on the cause and inspired us with mryiad opportunities going on all around us.  As I prepare to set off north to explore what the rest of the state is doing I am proud that my home city is showing so much leadership!


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