LOS ANGELES — Flanked by an EV charger, solar panels and tree saplings in pots, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city is on track to meet many of the ambitious goals set out in the Green New Deal.
A multi-faceted plan adopted in 2019 to combat climate change and set the city on a path to carbon neutrality by 2050, the Green New Deal calls for zero carbon electricity, zero carbon buildings, zero carbon transportation, zero waste and zero wasted water.
“At a time of extreme drought, we’re not stressed. We’re focused,” Garcetti said during his third annual update on progress toward the plan’s 445 initiatives on everything from environmental justice and renewable energy to local water, waste reduction, air quality and public transit. “This wasn’t pick five things that are easy and try to do them. This was the hard stuff.”
Among the highlights from the 2021-2022 annual update: The city now generates 36% fewer emissions than it did in 1990 and meets 43% of its energy needs with renewables such as wind and solar. It is well ahead of schedule to meet its goal of a carbon-neutral electricity grid. By 2030, 97% of the city’s energy will be generated with renewables. The city of LA has led the nation in solar power capacity eight of the last nine years.
It is also two years ahead of schedule on EV charger installations, which are being constructed at the rate of 20 per day. LA has the most commercial EV chargers of any city in the U.S., helped by Electrify America’s $25 million investment for zero emissions vehicle infrastructure last year.
LA is one year ahead with cool roof installations that lower buildings’ energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. It has so far installed 132 million square feet of cool roofing as well as 80 miles of cool pavement to reduce the urban heat island effect in neighborhoods that lack tree canopy.
The report details the Green New Deal’s short-term milestones in each of its target areas. While 60% of the 97 outcomes the Green New Deal projected for completion in 2021 were on track, achieved or exceeded the goal, according to the new report, two major areas fell behind.
Many of the Green New Deal’s waste reduction goals for 2021 have yet to be met, including legislation that would require takeout foodware to be made with compostable material. Additional goals set in 2019 that were supposed to be achieved last year are making progress but not in place, including the launch of citywide residential food scrap collection, establishment of food scrap drop-off locations at all city farmers markets and a one-third reduction in illegal dumping.
The city has also fallen behind on tree planting. The original plan called for planting and maintaining at least 90,000 trees citywide and to complete a citywide tree inventory by 2021 — neither of which has been attained.
Garcetti said the city’s progress “wasn’t inevitable.” He praised the leadership of City Council members Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian and Nithya Raman on various initiatives that are helping to advance the Green New Deal’s goals. Earlier this year, City Council declared a moratorium on oil drilling. It also approved $110 million in the 2022-2023 city budget to decarbonize nine city properties, and it established a new Climate Emergency Mobilization Office.
“As this mayor leaves us, he leaves behind an environmental legacy that is unmatched in Los Angeles history,” Krekorian said of Garcetti, who is awaiting confirmation as U.S. ambassador to India. “He leaves behind tangible results that were achieved shoulder to shoulder with this council that are not only going to change the future of Los Angeles, but truly be the example for the rest of the world.”