The curious role of Los Angeles in enacting climate policy

Authors: Kris Bezdecny*, California State University - Los Angeles
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Urban Geography, Environmental Perception
Keywords: urban climate governance, Los Angeles, uneven geographical development
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 33
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


How did the mayor of a city known for several environmental issues at the local level become a global leader in 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 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. Yet the global and regional actions committed (and committed to) by cities can be disconnected from the local day-to-day environmental experiences of their populace.

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, and his position as C40 Chair, even while struggling with environmental racism and environmental degradation locally.

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