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White House Highlights Luskin Center Report UCLA Luskin Center research on clean energy solutions for Los Angeles cited by White House.

White House Says New Clean Energy Maps Answer Call to Unleash Data, Build Climate Resiliency

 UCLA-EDF Identify Major Opportunities to Curb Climate Pollution,
Spur Thousands of Clean Energy Jobs in Los Angeles County

(Los Angeles, CA – July 29, 2014) Los Angeles County is currently leaving around 98 percent of its solar capacity untapped. Achieving just 10 percent of its rooftop solar potential could create 47,000 jobs and slash nearly 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually — the equivalent of taking about half a million cars off the road — according to maps released today from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and highlighted in a White House announcement.

“Through his Climate Data Initiative, President Obama is calling for all hands on deck to unleash data and technology in ways that will make businesses and communities more resilient to climate change,” said John P. Holdren, President Obama’s Science Advisor. “The commitments being announced today answer that call.”

The Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report (LASER) is a data-driven mapping tool designed to help communities identify opportunities to invest in projects that will save households money, create clean energy jobs, and strengthen climate resiliency in vulnerable communities. Maps show the region’s clean energy potential — in the form of rooftop solar energy generation and energy efficiency upgrades — which can reduce greenhouse gases while creating jobs and cutting electricity bills.

LASER also illustrates climate change-related heat impacts that are expected in the Los Angeles region, with a focus on the 38 percent of L.A. County residents (3.7 million people) living in environmentally-vulnerable communities burdened by air pollution and other risk factors, as identified by the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen). Based on analysis of CalEnviroScreen data, the report highlights that fully 50 percent of the state’s most vulnerable population lives in L.A. County. The State of California is expected to use the CalEnviroScreen to identify disadvantaged communities for the purpose of prioritizing funding from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.  

“The project is timely because with new state funding sources becoming available, LASER can help inform how the region invests resources to address pressing environmental challenges while providing job opportunities in its most impacted communities,” said Colleen Callahan, lead author of the study and deputy director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.

“Data mapping tools like LASER provide powerful visualizations of the harmful effects that climate change can have on our most vulnerable populations, while highlighting the potential for significant economic growth and substantially healthier communities,” said Jorge Madrid, EDF’s senior partnerships coordinator.

The maps are a response to President Obama’s Climate Data Initiative, a call to action to leverage public data in order to stimulate innovation and collaboration in support of national climate change preparedness. Alarming scientific findings from the National Climate Assessment show that climate change is already impacting all parts of the U.S., and arid regions like L.A. County can expect more intense heat waves in the coming decades — making resilience critical.

“Los Angeles is at the forefront of fighting climate pollution, deploying clean energy and preparing for the already tangible effects of climate change,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who serves on President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. “Through projects like the Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report, the city can help deploy more open data to inform community resiliency measures.”

The LASER project provides detailed, newly updated data at the County and municipality level designed to help policymakers and the public prepare for a warmer future. Maps demonstrate estimated temperature increases, current environmental health risks, and climate change vulnerability in various parts of the region. Parcel-level analysis gives planners and property owners detailed information about which buildings and other spaces across L.A. County are ripe for solar panel installation and energy efficiency measures. Taken as a whole, the project paints a comprehensive picture of clean energy opportunities in Southern California, and demonstrates the potential economic benefits of sustained investment in these strategies.

The research is part of UCLA’s Grand Challenge project “Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles,” which sets a goal for the Los Angeles region to use exclusively renewable energy and local water by 2050 while protecting biodiversity and enhancing quality of life.

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 UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation (innovation.luskin.ucla.edu), unites scholars with civic leaders to address pressing issues confronting our community, nation, and world. The Luskin Center produces research that informs public policy, with a focus on advancing environmental sustainability and innovation.

 Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our California Dream 2.0 Blog.  

 

 

Luskin Center To Host Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Conference

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.