Climate Change and LA

What it is, and what LA can and should do about it

GWNC Sustainability Committee

13 Sep 2016

Dan Kegel

BS ‘86, Caltech

Why I care about Climate Change

  • Timeline leading up to the first climate warnings
  • Just how hot is it getting?
  • It’s even hotter in the city
  • How the changes hurt Angelinos
  • How to take the edge off urban heat
  • How to prevent future warming

Timeline of warnings

Sources: NYT, UCSUSA

The Heat Island Effect

Streets and big buildings

soak up heat in the daytime,

stay so hot at night

Los Angeles Map of

Urban Heat Island Index

Streets etc. soak up heat, make city hotter than unbuilt areas

Prevailing wind from ocean means heat is carried inland during heat wave

Color = Hotter in evening by up to:

Red = 19 deg F

Light green = 4 deg F

(#’s are “degrees C difference vs rural area * hours” sum over 6 months)

How it affects Angelinos

Heat wave-related deaths

Air-pollution-related deaths



Flooding (well, a little)

“Death toll exceeded 70,000 in Europe during the summer of 2003”,

Fig. 2. Daily max temps at Basel showing successive heat waves from June to August. The 90th percentile of Tmax in Basel, 30 degrees C, is represented by the dashed line. (Solid line is 37C, body temperature.)


On freeways, [UFPs] are generated primarily by diesel-powered vehicles, despite the relatively low fraction (∼6%) of diesel-powered vehicles on Los Angeles freeways. However, UFPs on arterial roads appeared to be driven primarily by proximity to gasoline-powered vehicles undergoing hard accelerations.

Measurements and predictors of on-road ultrafine particle concentrations and associated pollutants in Los Angeles

Torrential rains pound San Pedro, 2010

Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Study for City of LA


Or, how to survive the heat

New flat roofs must be near-white;

new sloped roofs must use materials that stay slightly cooler; new nonroof areas must have some shade or use some cool materials


Or, when you’re in a hole, how to stop digging

Ways you can cut emissions:



Renewable Energy

Demand action



  • LEDs can use half the energy of other lights; good ones are $5 now
  • Skylights / daylighting use even less energy


  • Pick Energy Star appliances when replacing; check ratings at


  • Hybrid cars cost $0-$3000 extra, use 10%-30% less energy


Energy Star and rating sites like and are your friends



Electric cars

  • More expensive up front, but Federal, State, and SCAQMD rebates help a lot
  • Really awesome acceleration :-)

Bonus: reducing fossil fuel use reduces smog and associated health costs

Renewable Energy

Sign up for LADWP’s Green Power or Community Solar programs and/or install your own solar

Demand action

  • Demand climate action from your local, state, and federal legislators - call them and let them know climate is a priority for you
  • Join groups like RepublicEn, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, or Sierra Club to lobby for action

What is Los Angeles already doing?

Made a Climate Action Plan showing current emissions & specific goals

Tracking progress meeting the goals on a public web site

  • LA City dashboard:

Adopted a building code that mandates actions supporting the goals, e.g.

Told all city departments to cut GHG emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (Council File 14-0907)

City of Los Angeles 2013 Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory

A more detailed inventory has been promised for years, but has never been published. (Or has it? Send me a link...)

Is LA on track to meet its goal of 45% GHG cuts by 2025?

Without a published and annually updated community greenhouse gas inventory, we can’t tell.

Is LA on track to meet its goal of 10% EVs by 2025?

In July, the NRDC forecast that California EV sales will reach only 6% by that year.

LADWP does offer EV charger subsidies (see ), and LA Green Building Code requires 5% of parking spots be EV charger-ready in new buildings, but we may need to do more.

What else could Los Angeles do?

  • Measure progress more actively

  • Further align building code with climate goals
    • Require EV chargers in new bldgs (rather than just being EV charger ready)
    • Require solar panels on new roofs (rather than just being solar ready)

  • Align fiscal policies with climate goals
    • Local incentives for new zero-emission vehicles?
    • Local fee for new polluting vehicles?
    • Local carbon tax?
    • Endorse progressive federal carbon tax as CA just did with AJR43?

  • Aim higher
    • Target 100% renewable electricity, like San Diego and San Francisco ?
    • Target 100% renewable electricity during daytime sooner, e.g. by 2025?

What Los Angeles is considering right now

The council is voting this Friday on whether the LADWP should study what investments are needed to achieve 100% clean energy (see Council File 16-0243)

Friday, September 16, 2016, 9:30am-12:00pm

Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N Spring St, Room 340

“Modeling California policy impacts on greenhouse gas emissions”, 2013, LBNL

Meeting the 80% goal requires everything California was committed to do as of 2014 (S1), hitting goals announced as of 2014 (S2), and many difficult potential actions (S3)

S0 - business as usual

S1 - Committed Policies

S2 - Uncommitted Policies

S3 - Potential Policy and Technology Futures

“[The IPCC said] a two-thirds chance of keeping warming below two degrees required the world to limit its total carbon emissions since 1860 to no more than a trillion tons of carbon. Of this grand all-time total, 515 billion tons had already been emitted by 2011. So, according to the IPCC, we have just under 500 billion tons of our budget left.

Then we have to stop.


Leave the world a better place than you found it,

that your sons and daughters may enjoy it as you did.


Hyperlinked slides online at

This slide intentionally left

Spare Slides

Arrhenius, Svante. "XXXI. On the influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature of the ground." The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science 41.251 (1896): 237-276.

From “Restoring the Quality of our Environment”,

Report of the Environmental Pollution Panel,

President’s Science Advisory Committee, 1975

Cool Pavement

Concrete works, but is hard to fund

Reflective slurry seal available, but limited to < 20 mph.

LA BSS’s about to try it in cul de sacs

Drilling ice cores in Antarctica

Air bubbles trapped in ancient ice

37C = 98.6F

35C = 95F

Is Los Angeles on target to meet its goal of 10% of all cars being ZEV’s by 2025?

(A ZEV is a battery electric vehicle, a plug-in hybrid, or a fuel-cell vehicle.)

New cars bought today may last 15 years

If 100% of new car sales were ZEVs, it would take 15 * 10% = 1.5 years to reach the goal shows ZEVs have 3% of market,

which is worrisome; we’d have to ramp up to something like 15% by 2025 to meet the goal.

The state’s ZEV sales mandate is currently 3%, and ramps up significantly until 2025… although it’s hard to tell by how much; some sources say to 6%, some say 15%.

The LADWP is certainly doing its part at reducing GHGs, particularly by shutting down coal fired power plants.

Ways cities can cut emissions:



Renewable Energy

Walkable / Bikeable Cities

Realtime Energy Pricing

Pollution Pricing


Load Shifting