Los Angeles – Today, the Los Angeles City Council stepped up its climate leadership by directing the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power to work with area academics and other stakeholders to determine how to move the city to 100% renewable energy.
“By setting a course for 100% renewable energy, Los Angeles is taking a decisive step that will benefit our communities, our environment and our economy, said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate for Environment California. “Today’s decision sends a strong signal to cities everywhere that it’s no longer a question of whether we’ll get to 100% renewable power, but how fast?”
Scientists say we must stop burning virtually all fossil fuels by 2050 in order to spare kids growing up today from the devastating impacts of climate change.
“Hats off to the Los Angeles City Council,” said Rob Sargent, Environment America’s energy program director. “For healthier communities and a livable future for today’s children, we must transform the ways we produce and consume energy. That’s got to start with a commitment to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. Today’s decisive vote represents a very good start.”
The massive Aliso Canyon natural gas leak, which resulted in sickness for hundreds of residents and forced thousands more to leave their homes to protect their health, demonstrated the huge threats to our health and our climate posed by our overreliance on dirty fossil fuels. More than 97,000 tons of methane—the equivalent of the annual greenhouse gas pollution from 572,000 cars—was emitted from Aliso Canyon during the largest methane leak in U.S. history.
The 100% renewables motion was brought to the Council by Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Mike Bonin, who cite air pollution and sea level rise as two critical problems that will only get worse if the City does not act now to move to a cleaner, safer, renewable future.
“This is an enormous step forward that will help restore our environment and lead us to a sustainable, fossil-free future,” said Councilmember Krekorian. “For the third year running, Los Angeles was ranked as having the worst air pollution in the country, which is unacceptable and unhealthy for our families and neighborhoods. To reverse this trend we need big thinking and bold, smart action. Our legislation provides a pathway to 100 percent clean energy in Los Angeles, which will reduce greenhouse emissions, cut pollution and lead the city toward greater energy efficiency.”
“Much of the gorgeous coastline of the district I represent will literally be under water within decades if we do not take dramatic action to stop using harmful and climate-polluting fossil fuels,” said Councilmember Bonin. “Los Angeles can lead the way and show cities around the country – and around the world – that clean energy is here and ready to power thriving economies. This legislation will make sure that our transition to 100% clean energy happens as quickly and as strategically as possible and serves as a road map for other cities that want to join the clean energy future.”
Environment California Research & Policy Center’s recent white paper, We Have the Power: 100% Renewable Energy for a Clean, Thriving America, lays out whys, wherefores, and how-to’s for transforming the nation’s energy supply entirely to wind, solar, and other non-polluting sources. The report concludes that getting to 100% renewable energy is 100% possible and can serve as a resource for the City of Los Angeles as it charts its course to a healthier and more economically vibrant future.
“We have so much to gain from the transition to 100% clean energy – from cleaner air and a safer climate to local clean energy jobs, a more resilient city, and much more,” said Evan Gillespie, Deputy Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “The future could be so bright, but we have to have a vision and a plan to get there. 100% clean energy is the vision, and this motion is the next step to building a plan that imagines a bright future powered by clean energy.”
As more cities recognize the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy, it’ll be harder and harder to stall momentum. In 2015, Los Angeles’s neighbor, San Diego became the largest city in the country to adopt a legally-binding commitment to reach 100% clean energy by 2035; more than a dozen other U.S. cities have made similar commitments.
These efforts are complemented by the state policy committing California to achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030.
“Los Angeles is ready for 100% renewable energy,” said Kinman. “Now is the time to push the transition into high gear with a smart plan to accelerate progress and maximize the benefits for all Angelenos.”
Environment California is a statewide environmental advocacy organization dedicated to protecting California’s air, water and open spaces.