The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation will bring together leaders in government, nonprofits, academia and industry March 21 for a workshop designed to help disadvantaged communities take a leading role in fighting climate change.
Consistent with President Obama’s Climate Data Initiative, the “Investment Justice through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund” workshop will advance a data-driven approach to combat climate change and build community resiliency with smart investments.
States across the nation are starting to make investments to reduce carbon pollution. In California, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund will provide billions of dollars for projects designed to mitigate climate change and create local benefits, especially in hard hit communities.
But many questions remain about revenue allocation and implementation in disadvantaged communities. The Investment Justice Workshop at UCLA will support the development of an analytical, data-driven approach for this process. This will involve evaluative criteria to guide investment decisions and performance metrics to track results of the investments.
“California’s climate leadership provides lessons for the rest of the country,” said J.R. DeShazo, director of the Luskin Center and professor of public policy at UCLA. “Aligned with President Obama’s Climate Data Initiative, UCLA is bringing together leaders and lessons to help the State make wise investments with the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.”
The event will feature research including Graduated Density Zoning, produced by the UCLA Luskin Center and commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The LASER Atlas provides a tool to help local decision-makers and community members think strategically about where to invest to mitigate carbon pollution, expand renewable energy generation and create jobs. The Atlas includes maps of climate change vulnerability as well as rooftop solar energy capacity.
The LASER Atlas underscores how smart investments in solar and energy efficiency can reduce energy bills, thus lowering climate change emissions while at the same time making buildings more livable and saving money for residents, businesses and taxpayers.
The information in the Atlas comes at an important time. Unless changes are made, the L.A. region is projected to have three times the number of extreme heat days in the downtown and urban core by 2050, and four times the number of heat days in the valleys and at higher elevations, according to a separate UCLA study led by Alex Hall and mapped in the LASER Atlas.
In response to the President’s call to action via his Climate Data Initiative, the UCLA Luskin Center and EDF are now adding additional data layers to the LASER Atlas and plan to expand it to include other geographic areas.
“The UCLA Luskin Center, along with our research partner the Environmental Defense Fund, looks forward to being part of a national movement bringing data to bear to help communities, companies and citizens effectively prepare for climate change,” said Colleen Callahan, deputy director of the Luskin Center.
“Data mapping tools like the LASER Atlas provide powerful visualizations of the effects that climate change can have on our most vulnerable communities, while also highlighting opportunities for economic growth, job creation and increased resiliency,” said Jorge Madrid of the Environmental Defense Fund.
Specifically, the new maps show that residents of Los Angeles County are disproportionately impacted by environmental risks but, in turn, could disproportionately benefit from upcoming investments from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
For example, the LASER Atlas illustrates that disadvantaged communities are already benefiting from the installation of rooftop solar panels, with over 1,400 solar systems in low-income neighborhoods in just the investor-owned utility areas of the county alone. The data shows that expanding these installations would tap into L.A. County’s tremendous capacity to generate solar power.
The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund provides a new opportunity to invest in renewable energy, as well as clean transportation and sustainable communities, to combat climate change and create jobs.
The event on March 21 and its related research contributes to UCLA’s Grand Challenge Project “Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles,” whose goal is for the Los Angeles region to use exclusively renewable energy and local water by 2050 while protecting biodiversity and enhancing quality of life.