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UCLA Study Lays Out Citywide Sustainability Plan

Authors hope L.A. city officials will adopt university's recommendations for a greener Los Angeles.

UCLA researchers hope that Los Angeles officials consider energy, air, water and environmental justice recommendations laid out in a new study to turn L.A. into the greenest big city in the nation by 2021.

The study released Tuesday creates a sustainability plan for city leaders that unifies and streamlines green initiatives in Los Angeles, providing an alternative to the piecemeal approach that has been the status quo, the study claims. 

"There's never been a comprehensive environmental sustainability plan for Los Angeles," said co-author Mark Gold, a UCLA professor, associate director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and former president of the local nonprofit Heal the Bay. "The plan is an ambitious vision that creates measurable accountability within a time frame that a single mayoral administration and Council can tackle." 

The study, Vision 2021 LA: A Model Sustainability Agenda for Los Angeles' Next Mayor and City Council, included input from dozens of current and former city leaders as well as environmentalists. 

The report’s authors drew on current L.A. city plans and environmental sustainability ideas from other cities across the nation, listing 11 target areas, 24 goals and hundreds of benchmarks officials can use to ensure accountability. Scientists claim that by following the study’s recommendations for a greener city, L.A. could environmentally accomplish in eight years what may otherwise take two decades.

In particular, the study calls for reducing the city’s carbon footprint to address the impact of water and energy use on climate change.

Some of the goals listed include eliminating the Department of Water and Power’s use of coal, sourcing 32 percent of L.A.’s water locally and reducing greenhouse gas emission by 30 percent below 1990 levels.

"Our plan would set the city on the path to sustainability by cleaning our air and water, greening our energy supply, supporting better transportation and creating a resilient built environment," said co-author Cara Horowitz, a professor and executive director of UCLA's Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment. "We have to prepare for a changing climate that will reach into every neighborhood, from an increase in the number of days above 95 degrees to a less reliable water supply."

Although L.A. still needs to consider long-term sustainability goals, the study’s eight-year plan can help politicians achieve goals within the confines of their two four-year terms, Horowitz said.

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