Mayor Garcetti on the role of cities in tackling climate change

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Last week, 94 mayors of big cities from around the world gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark to talk climate change. The cities are all members of an organization called C40, which organized the four-day conference. On the first day, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti was elected the group’s new chair.

Now back in LA, Garcetti says, “Thirty cities, including Los Angeles, have already peaked their emissions and are heading down… This is a solvable problem and it will run through our cities, no matter who our national leaders are.” 

He says, cities are more important than the national government because cities control transportation networks, write building codes, look at how electricity gets generated. “Most of the work in the world actually comes down to that local level,” he says. 

Garcetti says LA has had an addition of 35,000 green jobs since he has been mayor: “Good paying, long lasting careers, transforming how we move, how we generate electricity, how we live in the buildings where we work and we live. And we think that can be done on a global scale.”

Aside from climate change, another challenge that continues to plague LA and other cities is homelessness, which Garcetti calls “the humanitarian crisis of this moment.” 

“It’s a tough thing to see and feel [that LA is working on solving this crisis], when you see tents. There is no solution where you can snap your fingers, sweep this away, or expect this to disappear overnight when it’s been decades in the making. But you also should not give up that this is not a solvable problem,” Garcetti says. 

He mentions that LA now has 151 permanent housing projects: “Not apartments, but those are buildings themselves that will total more than 10,000 units.” He adds that LA has opened four new shelters, and another 18 are on tap to open by July 1, 2020.