LOS ANGELES (Sept. 8, 2022) – Marking the first major environmental summit since the adoption of record spending plans at the state and federal levels to combat the climate crisis, the Los Angeles Business Council today convened a broad coalition of business, environmental, and civic leaders to address challenges, opportunities, and how California can continue to set the pace for sustainability.
“The LABC is proud to take the lead in convening some of the world’s top sustainability leaders as we continue to deliver on our clean energy goals and expand our workforce to foster a healthier environment,” said LABC President Mary Leslie. “The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and record climate-related spending package in Sacramento each deliver historic opportunities for Southern California and beyond to generate new, high paying jobs and investment while creating a stronger, more inclusive green economy. Today is about showcasing our achievements and accelerating our path to a more sustainable tomorrow.”
Last month, federal lawmakers passed one of the nation’s most ambitious climate action legislation packages in the nation’s history. The nearly $370 billion in climate spending includes extensions of the investment and production tax credits; a first-time inclusion of credits for standalone energy storage; permitting reform and tax credits for new and used electric vehicles (EVs), and more. The historic spending package will create new jobs and help California reach its own ambitious goals, including 100% renewable energy by 2045, with L.A. aiming to reach that mark a decade sooner.
The LABC has been a longstanding advocate of accelerating investments in clean energy, transportation, and environmental remediation, putting Los Angeles and the entire state of California on the front lines in the fight against global warming.
“Los Angeles is recognized as a global leader in the fight against the climate crisis, so it’s our responsibility to continue to set the highest possible standards for cities around the world to follow,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The LABC Sustainability Summit is an opportunity for climate leaders to convene around the most challenging and pressing issues we face – and a chance to discuss how we can best leverage future federal and state dollars to further accelerate our ambition.”
In addition to the federal spending package, California last month passed a flurry of bills representing its most aggressive response ever to the climate crisis, including the landmark SB 1020 which would require the state to generate 90% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035 and 100% by 2045 (state agencies would also have to source from 100% renewable sources by 2035 for their own operations). The state will direct a record $54 billion toward climate spending, including investments in EVs, rail and port projects, and drought mitigation programs. Lawmakers also agreed to extend the life of the state’s last nuclear power plant until 2030 – one that generated 6 percent of California’s electricity last year – and to invest $1.1 billion in a statewide “Marshall Plan” for developing renewable energy.
“State and federal investments in climate-change mitigation and clean energy provide an important opportunity to deliver on the promise of climate justice for all,” said Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and director of the Equity Research Institute at USC. “That starts with ensuring clean energy jobs are available far and wide and eliminating the systemic barriers that might get in the way.”
In June, the U.S. Department of Energy released an annual report outlining strong growth in clean energy jobs last year, with the broader energy sector outpacing overall employment nationwide. The electric vehicle industry added nearly 22,000 new jobs; solar energy added more than 17,000 jobs; and wind energy added more than 3,000 new jobs, according to the report. California had among the strongest energy job growth nationwide, adding more than 11,000 new jobs in low- or zero-carbon vehicles; nearly 6,000 jobs in energy efficiency; and nearly 2,000 new jobs in the solar industry, the report found.
“USC has both the ability and the responsibility to lead the way on sustainability, particularly as one of the largest private employers in Los Angeles County,” said Dr. Carol L. Folt, president of USC, which hosted the summit. “Every day, our community drives imaginative solutions in renewable energy, water supply, transportation, and other critical areas, and we produce creative work that helps inspire the change we all want to see. But there’s more we can do, and we welcome partners in our collective commitment to healing our planet.”
Highlighting the urgency of the moment, the summit coincided with a wave of climate crisis-induced challenges in California, including record temperatures, tightened water restrictions, wildfire evacuations, and the recent declaration of a statewide grid emergency.
“The alarming heatwaves of the past few weeks — among other recent environmental crises — are only the most striking manifestations of an existential threat that has been looming for decades,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “These troubling issues highlight why UCLA has made sustainability and climate action a central focus in our teaching and research, campus operations, and the ways in which we engage with the region.”