Former Deputy Mayor for Energy and the Environment, Romel Pascual presented his perspective, that, “LA is ready to come together, to collaborate, to have this conversation on climate.” He explained that LA has a history working on environmental issues at the local level, notably cleaning the air. “LA is one of the best places on Earth.” And we have a lot of haters out there. We’re known for smog, traffic sprawl,… but we are surprisingly collaborative and poised for great success.
Pascual explained that we have a dynamic infrastructure that can enable great things: Los Angeles owns three of the largest companies in the world. LADWP is the largest municipal utility in country. The Port is massive, the Airport one of country’s busiest portals. He’d been to the Copenhagen COP, and at Rio +20… “We can shape what other cities do. LA is the model.”
And we learn from others too. Ciclavia was borrowed from Bogata. Now we have car-free days downtown. We have urban parks, “a party with a purpose.” We’re five years old in LA with 15 events under our belts so far. It’s all part of the new normal. We’re creating alternative transportation based on walking and biking and taking the train. “That’s different from my generation when all is knew was,” said Pascual, “I want that Corvette!”
Megan Sahli-Wells is a Culver City Councilmember with a passion and vision: “It’s not about the future, it’s today…. We need a deeper commitment…. As a leader I need to change my community and have a global impact. Culver City is home the largest urban oilfield in America.” Sahli-Wells is working to stop the local oil extraction, and to stop climate change at its source.
Hector De La Torre, State Assemblyman and CARB Board Member, noted that this issue has gone from being an environmental issue, to now being embraced by all sectors. “The climate issue is tied to the survival on the planet. Everybody needs to be part of it.” Hector talks about his home community, South Gate, and the need for carefully crafted messaging. That means addressing immediate environmental issues such as diesel pollution. Most climate change messaging has not been effective for people who are trying to survive day to day.
Glendale Councilmember Laura Friedman was articulate, passionate, and drew great applause. She noted that “the importance of this is obvious to us… but it’s not so important to a lot of others out there.” She told a story of being at a conference in Asia and being affronted for her remarks about the need for transformation to a sustainable state. “How dare you Americans,” was what she heard loud and clear. How dare you, after your gluttonous ways, to tell us how to be sustainable.
Friedman speaks passionately about her own awakening and how “Our responsibility is so much greater…. Yes, given the history, we have to do much more than our share. We need to be the absolute leaders in every way… to take responsibility for what we have created.”
De La Torre brings us down to Earth. There will be opposition to our sustainability position. For instance, oil companies spent more money lobbying this past year in California than they did the year that they supported AB 23, the unsuccessful attempt to overturn AB 32 the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. People need to be engaged, and to stay attuned to the political process. “The only thing that beats [oil company lobbying muscle] is real people, people who vote.”