The climate is changing, across the globe and here in Los Angeles County. Sea levels are rising, summers are getting hotter, and patterns of storms and droughts are becoming more extreme. In order to address this growing threat, Los Angeles County is committed to joining local, regional, and national leaders across the globe to reduce greenhouse emissions with results-oriented strategies.

In order to deliver on its commitment to carbon neutrality, the County is updating its climate action plan to drive action towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The Los Angles County Climate Action Plan will not only set a course for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in unincorporated areas, but will also identify opportunities to reduce air pollution, improve community health, and create sustainable jobs for county residents.

The Los Angeles County Climate Action Plan builds upon the efforts within the OurCounty Sustainability Plan to create a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive Los Angeles County for present and future generations.

What does the Los Angeles County Climate Action Plan cover?

The METRO Gold Line frames downtown Los Angeles from the eastside along the 1st Street Bridge on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. A pair of Canadian geese rest along the Los Angeles River.   ( Photo: Mayra B. Vasquez / Los Angeles County )
The METRO Gold Line frames downtown Los Angeles from the eastside along the 1st Street Bridge on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. A pair of Canadian geese rest along the Los Angeles River. ( Photo: Mayra B. Vasquez / Los Angeles County )

The Los Angeles County Climate Action Plan (LA County CAP) will outline actions that Los Angeles County plans to take to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to a changing climate in unincorporated areas. The County’s existing Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) document was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2015 as a component of the Los Angeles County General Plan 2035; it expires in 2020 and will be replaced by the LA County CAP. The LA County CAP will tie together existing climate change initiatives and provide a blueprint for deep carbon reductions.  Through this updated CAP, the County is targeting carbon neutrality by 2045 in unincorporated Los Angeles County.

The LA County CAP will include a GHG inventory and a roadmap for addressing emissions from stationary energy (used by buildings and other facilities), transportation, waste, industrial, agricultural, and land use sectors. Mitigation measures identified in the plan will also yield community co-benefits, including improvements in air quality, public health, mobility, and resilience. The LA County CAP will be aligned with the General Plan as well as OurCounty, the countywide sustainability plan, to support decision-makers in delivering climate compatible solutions in unincorporated Los Angeles County.

Why do we need to act now?

It is well-established scientific consensus that human activities are responsible for the increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere, causing average global temperatures to rise over time. This rise in temperature is changing global climate patterns and increasing the likelihood of weather-related natural disasters, affecting Los Angeles County and communities worldwide. Climate change has the potential to harm this current and future generations’ safety, public health, economy, and quality of life.

To address climate change and safeguard local communities, the State of California adopted AB 32 in 2006, also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act, establishing a state-wide goal to achieve 1990 emission levels by 2020. In supporting California’s GHG reduction goals, the County adopted a Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) in August 2015 to reduce GHG emissions associated with community activities in unincorporated Los Angeles County by at least 11% below 2010 levels by 2020. According to the most recent inventory, both total and per-capita GHG emissions in unincorporated Los Angeles County have been increasing since 2010. This upward trend demonstrates the urgent need for further action to meet climate goals.

In December 2015, world leaders adopted the Paris Agreement, a global action plan to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change, formalizing their concerted efforts to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The agreement urged national leaders to join forces with states and local governments to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In support of the Paris Agreement, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors signed the “We Are Still In” Declaration in September 2018, affirming the County’s continued commitment to uphold the target set by the Paris Agreement. The LA County CAP is aligned with that declaration and is also aligned with former Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order B-55-18 that brings California to carbon neutrality by 2045, five years before the Paris Agreement deadline.

How will climate change impact Los Angeles County?

The effects of climate change depend on local environment, and each of Los Angeles County’s diverse environments may be affected differently. Coastal communities may experience sea level rise, communities near rivers or arroyos may experience increased risk of flooding, communities near forests and mountains may suffer increased wildfire risks, and urban communities may experience more days of extreme heat. By working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, all communities can play a part in protecting Los Angeles County from the worst impacts of climate change. For more information on how climate change will affect California communities, visit climateassessment.ca.gov.

Where are the County’s current greenhouse gas emissions coming from?

Pie graph of Unincorporated Area GHG Emissions by Sector in 2015. Transportation makes up 62%, Stationary Energy is 29&, Industrial Processes and Product Use is 2%, Waste is 5%, Agriculture, Forestry, and other land use is 1.6%.

The vast majority of Los Angeles County’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from the combustion of fossil fuels – including gasoline, diesel, and natural gas – in the processes used to propel motor vehicles, generate electric power, and produce heat and hot water for buildings and facilities. 62% of greenhouse gas emissions in unincorporated areas come from the transportation sector, and most transportation emissions come from passenger vehicles that include cars and light trucks. Another 29% of greenhouse gas emissions is tied to energy use in buildings and facilities, including power plants, business, and homes. The remaining greenhouse gasses come from industry, agriculture, and waste.

How can I learn more and get involved with the process?

Stay updated on the Los Angeles County Climate Action Plan by visiting planning.lacounty.gov/climate, or emailing climate@planning.lacounty.gov.

You can also follow the Department of Regional Planning on social media at @LACDRP, and you can follow the Chief Sustainability Office at @CSO_LACo.

Stakeholder workshops on the County’s energy system and regional climate change impacts were conducted in 2018 as part of the OurCounty sustainability plan’s engagement process. Read the briefing documents, presentations, and summaries from the non-profit and public and private sector workshops at www.OurCountyLA.org.