"When you look at your planet from space, it's beautiful, fragile, and there's this little thin layer all the way around: our atmosphere. And that's the only thing that protects us from the really bad vacuum in outer space. This little fragile layer, the atmosphere, is part of our life support system.
We need to be really careful with it."
-- Mary Cleave
Along with most credible climate scientists, Councilmember Koretz firmly believes that we as an international community have less than ten years to turn our greenhouse gas emissions around or else we will be headed toward uncontrolled climate disruption.
One degree Celsius of planetary warming is already causing or exacerbating extreme weather events resulting in widespread flooding, droughts, winds, and wildfires as well as record-breaking heat and cold. These events have already caused billions of dollars in property damage and the tragic deaths of hundreds of thousands if not millions. We do not want to know what two degrees or more will cause.
Councilmember Koretz also believes that, working together, we can still turn things around and, in the process, create well-paying green jobs, increase health and social equity across the City by cleaning up the air in all our communities, and reimagine our relationship with the Earth, which is our only home.
Councilmember Koretz has introduced a slate of climate emission-reduction motions to the City Council and is sponsoring a number of community-based projects intended to bolster the vital grassroots effort to increase energy and water conservation on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood, house-by-house, business-by-business basis.
As both California and Los Angeles are being held high as leaders in the climate fight, Councilmember Koretz’s ultimate goal is to create and improve model emission reduction and climate resilience programs that can then be spread around the country and around the world for all to use.
The effort to address climate change has never had a strict deadline… until now. On September 25, 2015, Councilmember Koretz announced his Decade: Climate Safe (2016-2025) initiative, an effort to focus the City and its residents on taking swift and decisive climate action simply for ten years, which will allow technology like electric vehicles, renewable energy and battery storage to be implemented on a widespread basis.
As part of that effort, he will be rolling out several projects intended as models that can be shared and spread around as soon as possible.
Connecting and Supporting Those Already Doing the Job
Councilmember Koretz has partnered with a new organization called Pando Populus, whose mission is to do the work necessary to create an ecologically-minded civilization. Pando takes its name from the largest and oldest living organism on the planet – a giant quaking aspen tree, spread out over more than a hundred acres, thousands of years old, connected by a single root system.
The first stage of their effort together is called Pando Hubs, connecting and supporting people and communities, individuals and organizations all across LA County who are already reworking civilization in ecologically-minded ways. The aim is that, within a decade’s time, we won’t still be waiting for ecological civilization to happen. We will have established a vast network throughout Los Angeles already creating it.
Bringing Climate Action to Your Neighborhood
For the next stage of Decade: Climate Safe, Councilmember Koretz is partnering with the folks from the Cool Cities Challenge and the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance on a pilot project to make Los Angeles the largest city to take on the challenge. Beginning with 15 neighborhoods in Los Angeles who will set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. Once we have ironed out all the kinks in bringing the program to big-city scale, the Councilmember aims to spread this ground-breaking program across the City, and help it accelerate across the Country.
To learn more about the Cool Cities Challenge, please watch the video and visit the website.
If you would like to bring the Cool Cities Challenge to your neighborhood, please contact Andy Shrader in the City Hall office.
Bringing Climate Action to Your Business Community
What the Cool Cities Challenge is to residential neighborhoods, EcoDistricts are to business districts.
An EcoDistrict pilot project in Los Angeles is already underway downtown in Little Tokyo. Once that project has proven to be successful, Councilmember Koretz intends to bring the EcoDistrict concept to Council District 5.
For more information on what it means to bring an EcoDistrict to your city block, please visit: Ecodistricts. If you would like to bring an EcoDistrict to your business district, please contact Andy Shrader in the City Hall office.
And more community action to follow…
MOTIONS INTRODUCED BY COUNCILMEMBER KORETZ
Councilmember Koretz’s motion calling on the entire City of Los Angeles to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and, for our Department of Water and Power to reduce its emissions 80 percent by 2030, has been approved by the Innovation, Grants, Technology, Commerce and Trade Committee in December. It awaits a hearing in the Energy & Environment Committee before it will come before the full City Council.
This motion aims to create: a concrete climate action plan to achieve those goals, engagement with the City’s 96 neighborhood councils via the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance, as well as a mechanism for sharing best practices with LA’s 25 Sister Cities across the planet. Many of our Sister Cities are already feeling the brunt of the changing climate and we want to work together in solidarity to fight the problems causing what has quickly become humankind’s most urgent crisis.
The original 80% by 2050 motion can be found here.
Extreme oil extraction measures like fracking, acidizing and gravel packing are already causing earthquakes, groundwater contamination, methane leaks and air pollution around the country.
Councilmember Koretz, along with Councilmember Mike Bonin, has introduced a motion calling for a moratorium on fracking, acidizing and gravel packing in Los Angeles. The City Council voted to support the motion and sent the Planning Department and the City Attorney off to draft an ordinance.
The original fracking motion can be found here.
Before Aliso Canyon, LA’s Methane Emissions were already 61% Higher than Expected
Councilmember Koretz has also been working to address the City’s significant methane emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Methane (CH4) is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emitted in the United States from human activities, accounting for about 10% of all human-caused GHG emissions. Methane’s lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), but CH4 is more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of methane on climate change is more than 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.”
“Globally, over 60% of total CH4 emissions come from human activities, including from industry [natural gas and petroleum systems], agriculture and waste management activities.”
Oil Wells in Venice, circa, 1952
In an area with the largest contiguous urban oil field in the world and miles of natural gas pipelines under its streets, it is easy to understand that NASA recently found that the Los Angeles basin’s methane emissions are 61% higher than expected. Councilmember Koretz’s motion has been heard in Energy & Environment Committee and we are awaiting a report back from the City departments.
Here is the original methane motion.
“By emitting just a little bit of methane, mankind is greatly accelerating the rate of climatic change.”
- Steve Hamburg, Chief Scientist
Environmental Defense Fund
the most potent of greenhouse gases
SF6 (Sulfur Hexafluoride) is, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the most potent greenhouse gas it has evaluated, with a global warming potential of 23,900 times that of carbon dioxide when compared over a 100-year period.
Average global SF6 concentrations increased by about 7% per year during the 1980s and 1990s mainly as a result of its use in the magnesium production industry, by electronics manufacturers, and by electrical utilities, including our own Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP). LADWP has reported that it uses SF6 to efficiently conduct electricity through its transmission equipment.
The Clean Air Act requires LADWP to follow federal reporting requirements in order to mitigate SF6 emissions. Toward that end, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the energy industry, conducts the SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for Electric Power Systems (Partnership). Before Councilmember Koretz introduced his SF6 motion, the LADWP did not participate in the Partnership. His motion changed that. It resulted in LADWP’s joining the SF6 Partnership and participating in the nationwide best-practice efforts to reduce emissions of this incredibly dangerous greenhouse gas.
Here is the original motion.
In 2014, Councilmember Koretz partnered with Councilmember Jose Huizar to initiate the City’s historic Zero Waste policy. This commercial waste policy aims to increase customer service, reduce trash truck trips and to help the City meet its goal of diverting 90% of its trash from landfills by 2025. Both of these efforts will substantially reduce the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. Fewer truck trips will reduce carbon dioxide pollution and less trash in landfills will reduce methane emissions. The new policy will go into force in 2017.
Here is the original motion.
Its tremendous combination of ample sunshine and endless rooftops make Los Angeles an ideal city for solar energy. Councilmember Koretz has been a strong supporter of all of the Department of Water & Power’s (LADWP) solar programs, but has been particularly instrumental in moving forward its historic feed-in tariff program. A feed-in tariff (FiT) program is a policy mechanism which allows companies who own rooftop solar installations of a certain size to sell the energy those panels generate back to LADWP. A FiT program incentivizes a rapid movement to renewable energy, which is so necessary to allow the City to move away from coal and natural gas energy production.
Councilmember Koretz has been recognized as a leader on climate action in Los Angeles. He was recently visited by renowned author and climate activist, Naomi Klein, who he had the privilege of introducing to the City Council.
At the 2015 “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization” Pando Populus conference, he also was given the distinct honor of introducing keynote speaker, Bill McKibben, the person who Foreign Policy magazine named of the 100 most important global thinkers and the Boston Globe called, “probably the nation’s leading environmentalist.”
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