Tuesday, September 25

Conference discusses advances in California climate change solutions

UCLA faculty, California politicians and business executives are developing new technological tools that support California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as announced at a conference held at the UCLA School of Law Friday.

The conference, hosted by Sen. Fran Pavley and Assemblyman Richard Bloom, addressed the record four-year drought, housing and transportation issues and the effects of Assembly Bill 32, also called the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

AB 32 is the first program to take a long-term approach to climate change solutions by increasing energy efficiency, use of renewable energy, cleaner transportation and waste reduction, according to the California Environmental Protection Agency. Its goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent to 1990-levels by 2020, while maintaining a competitive economy.

Cara Horowitz, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA, said UCLA aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. UCLA has also launched a campuswide initiative to fully adopt renewable energy and local water sources by 2050, as part of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge.

Horowitz and other UC researchers released a report, called Bending the Curve, on Nov. 6, which suggests 10 solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Horowitz added the research suggests using Sen. Pavley’s California policies as an example for global climate change solutions.

Stephanie Pincetl, director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities, introduced the LA Energy Atlas, which shows energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions per building in Los Angeles County.

“The development of this is crucial because (buildings produce) nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the county,” she said.

Pincetl added she thinks the atlas will help investors understand where to invest which energy-saving technologies. For example, low-income neighborhoods need more efficient heating systems, while high-income neighborhoods need to better manage overall energy use.

Richard Hoffman, former senior vice president and chief information officer of Avery Dennison Corporation, suggested Los Angeles become one of five national locations where companies create products that have low carbon footprints. The proposal, part of a Department of Energy initiative, will pair companies with university students in an attempt to transition to clean energy technologies.

“You really see a win-win-win (situation) between higher education, industries and clean air objectives,” Hoffman said.

Laurie Hope, deputy director of the Energy Research and Development Division, introduced another initiative, called the Water Energy Technology program, to develop new methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The program, still in funding stages, will invest in products with existing prototypes, such as precision agriculture irrigation systems that reduce water use.

John Boesel, chief executive officer of CALSTART, a nonprofit organization, discussed the increasing competitiveness of clean energy businesses as a means for sustainable growth in the economy.

He said there has been an increasing incentive for companies to expand in the green industry in California, because the state subsidizes funding for technology such as zero-emission buses.

Horowitz added a delegation of UCLA law students will participate in United Nations Paris talks in December and work on behalf of small, developing island states to achieve a global agreement on climate change efforts.

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