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The curious role of Los Angeles as a global urban climate leader

Authors: Kris Bezdecny*, California State University - Los Angeles
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural Ecology, Anthropocene
Keywords: urban climate governance, urban political ecology, Los Angeles, uneven geographical development
Session Type: Paper
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How did the mayor of a city known for several environmental justice struggles at the local level become a global leader for cities taking action on climate change? When the Trump Administration announced in June 2017 its intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, dozens of cities, with Los Angeles spearheading efforts in the U.S., have subverted this decision to focus on policy that provides de facto support for the Paris Agreement. More importantly, this catalyst highlighted that cities, and urban climate governance, has to play a significant role in addressing climate change and other environmental issues. This is even more significant in an era where the majority of the world's population lives (works, and consumes) in cities.

This paper uses Los Angeles and the role of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration as a case study in how the shifting dynamics of urban global governance intersects with environmental justice at multiple scales through the same urban space. Focusing on how different power dynamics affect an urban site at multiple scales simultaneously addresses how a city such as Los Angeles can take global leadership in urban environmental justice, including Garcetti’s leadership in the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda commitment to address climate change, even while struggling with environmental racism and environmental degradation locally.

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