California Continues to Lead on Climate Action

California has once again proven itself to be a national and world leader on climate, with several important actions taking place in the past few weeks:

On August 27, the State released California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, a series of reports and tools that advance actionable science. The assessment represents the latest data on climate impacts and adaptation at the state and local levels. It also highlights areas including climate justice, tribal and indigenous communities, and ocean and coastalareas. The Los Angeles Region Report, which TreePeople peer-reviewed, shares sobering but critical information for decision-makers:

  • LA can expect continued future warming, with average maximum temperatures projected to increase around 4-5 degrees F by the mid-century, and 5-8 degrees F by the late-century.
  • Extreme heat is also expected to increase. Many parts of the LA region will experience hottest days that will be some 10 degrees F warmer than in the past.
  • While average annual precipitation is expected to change minimally, dry and wet extremes are expected to increase — meaning more dry periods, and more intense storms, more of which will come in the form of atmospheric rivers (long, narrow regions in the atmosphere that transport water) such as the famed “Pineapple Express” from Hawaii.
  • Sea levels will also continue to rise, with an approximately 1-2 feet rise by mid-century, and the most extreme projections showing 8-10 feet of rise by the end of the century.  

How climate change will continue to impact California partially depends on choices we collectively make regarding energy and transportation emissions. Will we continue with “business as usual”? Or will we go on a carbon diet, curb emissions, and usher in an era of clean and efficient energy?

Another landmark climate action in California is attempting to put us on the latter path:

On September 10, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the nation’s most ambitious renewable energy goal. Senator Kevin de León authored State Bill 100, mandating that 50% of renewable energy be zero-carbon by 2026, 60% by 2030, and that 100% of energy be zero-carbon by 2045.

Two important gatherings also occurred recently. The biennial California Adaptation Forum was held in Sacramento August 27-29, hosting hundreds of people from the adaptation community to move from planning for the effects of climate change to taking action to adapt to those effects. That same week, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Vice President Al Gore with his organization The Climate Reality Project held a climate leaders’ training in the LA Convention Center for more than 2,000 people from 50 countries. TreePeople is proud to have sent two of our staff who are now trained to deliver an updated version of Mr. Gore’s impactful presentation, as featured in the film An Inconvenient Truth. Additionally, the Global Climate Action Summit was held in San Francisco on September 12-14. It brought global leaders together to “Take Ambition to the Next Level,” which was a moment to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of states, regions, cities, companies, investors, and citizens with respect to climate action.

With such decisive actions on climate taking place in our state, it’s a great time be a Californian.

 

Edith de Guzman, Director of Research, Natural Urban Systems Group, has been with TreePeople since 2003, where she manages research into best practices for the sustainable transformation of the Greater Los Angeles area. Exploring environmental, social and economic aspects of urban ecosystems, she works to collect and disseminate research that identifies the efficacy, benefits and applicability of various approaches to urban sustainability, with a special focus on watershed management. Edith received a master's in Urban Planning from UCLA and a bachelor's in History/Art History, also from UCLA.