LA forms first-ever climate emergency mobilisation office

California’s largest city, Los Angeles, becomes the first in the world to take such steps to reverse global warming.

Students attend a protest rally to call for urgent action to slow the pace of climate change, in Los Angeles
Los Angeles launched its Green New Deal sustainability plan in April, setting aggressive goals for a carbon-neutral future [Lucy Nicholson/Reuters]

The United States city of Los Angeles has institutionalised the first Climate Emergency Mobilization Department – and the first Climate Emergency Commission – on the planet.

On Wednesday, by a vote of 13-0, the city council unanimously passed legislation to hire a Climate Emergency Mobilization Director and plan the next moves for a citywide climate emergency implementation blueprint that environmental justice groups helped craft through a series of community meetings.

The department will address the local impacts of climate change, including wildfires and floods. It will also take up concerns surrounding pollution and the effects of toxic waste. In addition, people displaced by climate change will be able to seek employment assistance from the government.

“The adoption of a Climate Emergency Mobilization programme represents a major step forward for the city of Los Angeles…in taking urgent action to fight back against this accelerating global crisis,” said Margaret Klein Salamon, founder and executive director of The Climate Mobilization – the group that put the idea of climate mobilisation into the public consciousness a half-decade ago.

“The Climate Mobilization applauds this important step and encourages the City Council to quickly adopt the full proposal submitted on March 15 by Councilmember Koretz and the Leap LA Coalition,” said Salamon.

“Addressing our climate emergency in urgent fashion not only preserves our planet for the next generation, it presents a tremendous opportunity to do so in ways which are equitable, inclusive and just for all communities,” she added.

The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, in April released a Green New Deal for the city, putting the metropolis on course to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Preparing for the future

Last year, the Los Angeles City Council passed an initial motion acknowledging the urgency for dealing with climate change and exploring the establishment of a Climate Emergency Mobilization Department, becoming the fourth jurisdiction in the world to acknowledge or declare a climate emergency.

Darebin, Australia had already done so, as had Hoboken, New Jersey, and Montgomery County, Maryland.

Los Angeles’s original climate emergency motion helped catalyse more than 700 declarations of climate emergency in 16 countries that have followed suit in areas representing well over 135 million people.

Last week, New York City became the world’s biggest metropolis to join the expanding ranks of localities declaring an emergency.

Los Angeles councilmembers Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield had first introduced the motion to mobilise their city at the beginning of 2018, following massive winter wildfires.

The Climate Emergency Commission is to have five representatives from affected communities; three appointees from local Native American tribes; three policy experts; two youth appointees; one labour appointee; one city council president appointee; and one liaison from the council’s Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee.

Source: Al Jazeera