LOS ANGELES (February 24, 2011) – Global Green USA, a national environmental non-profit that advocates for climate solutions, unveiled yesterday the beta version of its City Carbon Index globalgreen.org/citycarbonindex (CCI) – a new Web tool designed to benchmark cities’ efforts to reduce carbon emissions and motivate citizens to advocate for smart climate policies at a local level, starting in Los Angeles.
The index was created to be similar to a smog index for CO2 pollution, to help people understand the magnitude of carbon emissions in a megacity like Los Angeles and to better understand how they can effectively help reduce its emissions.
The City of LA received a C- grade which will hopefully motivate citizens to support – and push — leaders to go further toward the reduction goals set for 2030. The C- grade is a result of LA having the dirtiest municipal utility West of the Mississippi (close to 50% of LA’s power is derived from dirty coal). The city’s commitment to getting off of coal is significant, but has suffered from a lack of transparency and intermittent leadership at the LADWP. In addition, key strategies to provide a long-term substantive incentive program for solar power have been lacking in the long-term certainty needed to build a market. Additionally, despite a number of well-crafted renewable energy, transportation, and land use policies, many are only being partially enforced or supported.
The City Carbon Index was unveiled in Los Angeles, the first city to be graded through the Index, during a special Pre-Oscar® Party press event at Avalon Hollywood hosted by Global Green President Matt Petersen. Petersen was joined by senior students from the Environmental Charter High School, and representatives from the LA Business Council, Sierra Club, UCLA’s Luskin Center and local elected officials.
“More than 70% of CO2 emissions come from cities,” said Global Green President and CEO Matt Petersen. “Cities offer an important opportunity for individuals and communities to create and support innovative solutions to global warming that also create green jobs, improve air quality and provide model solutions to reduce carbon emissions.”
The late Dr. Steven Schneider, the renowned Stanford climatologist and Global Green Board member was one of the project’s key advisors who helped shape the direction of the iconic measuring tools. The idea for creating the City Carbon Index came out of discussions that Petersen first had with philanthropist Jena King at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009 about how difficult it is for people to truly understand the carbon footprint of cities or how citizens can help reduce a city’s footprint. Funding for the CCI was made possible with a generous grant from the Jena and Michael King Foundation.
The CCI grades cities based on their efforts to combat climate change and ranks over 50 city policies that focus on reducing city CO2 emissions. The index presents both a number value for the city’s estimated annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (in millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide [CO2]) and a letter grade that reports how well the city is doing to adopt and implement GHG reduction policies. The CCI also strives to build a network of activists by providing action alerts and other resources that encourage citizens to push for political action at the local level and create positive environmental change within their communities.
Launching first in Los Angeles, Global Green plans to enhance the index with carbon emissions reporting tools for individuals and institutions and by expanding the index to other cities across the U.S. and has invited the public to vote on the next city at globalgreen.org .
“We applaud Global Green for initiating the City Carbon Index and are gratified that the CLEAN LA Solar program will be their first action item,” said Mary Leslie, President of the LA Business Council. “LABC and Global Green have long been partners on this solar program that would allow businesses, nonprofits, and residents to install solar panels on their rooftops and get paid for the power they generate. The CLEAN LA Solar Program would greatly raise the city’s grade for offsetting carbon while creating 900 high-wage jobs each year for 5 years, leveraging over $500 million in private investment, and contributing to meeting our renewable energy goals.”
“Global Green’s carbon index will help Angelenos target the most effective actions we can all take – either in our homes or at City Hall – to help transition our city from dirty and dangerous coal to clean and sustainable energy,” said Evan Gillespie, Regional Representative with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Los Angeles. “With nearly three out of every four tons of LA’s electricity-related carbon pollution coming from our outdated and dirty coal-fired power plants, we need to start the necessary transition beyond coal now. Global Green’s carbon index tool will help us each do our part to make this necessary transition a reality.”
JR DeShazo, Director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation said, “Measuring the climate performance of cities is an essential first step toward learning from the climate leaders and to crafting effective policies for the laggards.”
Global Green has received assistance from Clean Agency, a Pasadena-based sustainability consulting firm, to help build momentum around the CCI and gain support from local businesses, media and other groups.
“We hope CCI will create an engaged group of activists that hold public officials accountable for their city’s carbon emissions and drive lasting and impactful greenhouse gas policy changes across the U.S.,” said Petersen. “We are grateful for the King’s idea and critical support, along with the generous pro bono assistance of the Clean Agency. We are also grateful to the Mayor’s and City Council President’s offices in helping us access the necessary data.”
To learn how you can take action to reduce GHG emissions in Los Angeles, visit the City Carbon Index at www.globalgreen.org/citycarbonindex . Photos from the City Carbon Index unveiling are available for viewing at http://bit.ly/gN94qs . High resolution images can be provided upon request.