First publishedin ITS International
Los Angeles – like many other cities around the world – is gasping for cleaner air © Serban Enache | Dreamstime.com
Los Angeles, once a temple to the automobile, has followed the Democrats in launching its own Green New Deal – and the city has made big pledges on urban mobility investment
The Democratic Party has started something. The Green New Deal, one of whose most high-profile supporters is new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, intends to persuade the public that swift action is necessary to combat climate change. Now the city of Los Angeles has followed suit, releasing what it calls ‘LA’s Green New Deal’. It is underpinned by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation, from which president Donald Trump controversially removed the US in 2017 - although the country will not formally leave until after the 2020 presidential election, and the House of Representatives has just passed a bill in an attempt to stop this happening anyway.
Among the LA document’s primary – and rather pointed – aims, is to “demonstrate the art of the possible and lead the way, walking the walk and using the city’s resources - our people and our budget - to drive change”.
An update of the first Sustainable City pLAn in 2015, it “augments, expands, and elaborates in even more detail LA’s vision for a sustainable future and it tackles the climate emergency with accelerated targets and new aggressive goals”.
Transit is at its heart – there is a pledge of $860 million per year to expand the transportation system – with electric vehicles to the fore: it promises an $8 billion upgrade to the city’s electricity grid by 2022, to help build the US’s “largest, cleanest and most reliable urban electrical grid to power the next generation of green transportation”.
Transport accounts for 19% of LA’s greenhouse gas emissions, and is therefore the top contributor to air pollution. “These trends cannot continue,” the document says. In a canny nod to the downsides of commuting in the city of the private car, it points out that public transit expansion plans have the power to cut time stuck in traffic by 15% per day. By 2035, half of all trips “will happen somewhere other than a single occupancy vehicle”.
The document also plays up the health angle, citing research which suggests the switch from driving to include 15 minutes of walking or biking on a work commute translates to a 23% reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, and a 15% reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Modal shift is also the key to carbon neutrality, allowing the city to reduce today’s transportation emissions by a quarter - the equivalent, it claims, of removing 300,000 cars from the road for one year.
In LA, the document goes on, more people than ever are walking, biking, using scooters, ride-share, and other modes of transportation to get to and from home
and work: “Our streets today are testing grounds for new technology, first/last mile solutions and major innovations in mobility.”
City authorities will “expand electric car-sharing options” and support implementation of Metro’s first/last mile plans for the Blue Line, Purple Line and subsequent lines.
The new document “will put Los Angeles at the global centre of investment, innovation, and job creation in…green mobility”, the document says.
As Mayor Eric Garcetti concludes:
“The generational battle against climate change is a moral imperative, an environmental emergency and an economic opportunity.”
LA confidential: green targets
• Reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2025, 65% by 2035 and reach carbon neutral by 2045
• Increase the percentage of all trips made by walking, biking, micromobility or transit to at least 35% by 2025, 50% by 2035 and maintain at least 50% by 2050
• Reduce vehicle miles travelled per capita by at least 13% by 2025, 39% by 2035, and 45% by 2050
• Convert all city fleet vehicles to zero emission where technically feasible by 2028
• Ensure Los Angeles is prepared for autonomous vehicles by the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games
• Reduce municipal energy use by 18% by 2025, 35% by 2035 and 44% by 2050
• Supply 55% renewable energy by 2025, 80% by 2036 and 100% by 2045
Source: Sustainable City pLAn 2019