Category Archives: Jobs

How Big Data Can Fight Climate Change in Los Angeles

Jorge-MadridYou may be wondering – as I was before we started a project with the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation over a year ago – “what the heck does Big Data have to do with climate change?”

To start, here’s a piece from Climate Central that exemplifies the new power of big data.

“Big Data allows you to say simple, clear things…to tell people about their climate locally in ways they can understand.”

Through taking information created all around us and applying thoughtful analysis, we can comprehend and unleash it to solve our greatest challenges. For EDF, that means partnering with the country’s top universities and most innovative companies to address the biggest challenge of our time – climate change.

Today we launch the newest version of the Los Angeles Solar & Efficiency Report (LASER), a data-driven mapping tool that can help stakeholders and local leaders understand climate and pollution risks in their own communities. Empowered by this information, they can seek out and maximize available resources to deploy clean energy, reduce climate pollution, and create tens of thousands of much-needed jobs.

A call to action

Last March President Obama announced the launch of his Climate Data Initiative, which put a spotlight on the need and potential to use knowledge-driven insights to help communities effectively mitigate, prepare, and adapt to climate change. This was followed by the United Nation’s Big Data Climate Challenge in May.

By releasing these maps today, we humbly join an international movement of individuals, public entities, and private companies who are maximizing the potential of shared information to inform, educate, and usher in a new wave of innovation and opportunity.

Speaking of opportunity, although Los Angeles is famous for its nearly year-round sunshine, it is leaving about 98 percent of its rooftop solar potential untapped. Achieving just ten percent of that would drive the creation of 47,000 solar installation jobs and could reduce carbon pollution by nearly 2.5 million tons annually. This is the equivalent of taking more than half a million cars off the road every year.

Heat capture LASER maps

Map from the LASER Atlas showing temperature rise projections in Los Angeles

New, low-carbon energy options are critical to reduce greenhouse gases and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. We’re already experiencing impacts of a changing climate, and Los Angeles County is projected to get REALLY HOT in the coming decades. Using groundbreaking climate projections by Dr. Alex Hall and the UCLA Department of Atmospheric Oceanic Sciences, the LASER maps show that, by mid-century, Los Angeles’ urban core and downtown will experience three times as many extreme heat days (above 95 degrees Fahrenheit) as today, and the valleys and areas of high elevation will experience four times as many.

All air is not equal in L.A.

Half of California’s most vulnerable population lives in L.A. County, based on analysis from Environmental Protection Agency data and the CalEnviroScreen. That means there are 3.7 million people living in communities in L.A. County – 38 percent of the county –already over-burdened by harmful pollution and other risk factors that make them especially impacted by climate change. A majority of these vulnerable areas are home to low-income families and communities of color. As one of these maps demonstrates, there are polluting fossil fuel power plants right in the middle of many of these communities.

The most polluted areas in L.A. can grow thousands of clean energy jobs

There’s an overwhelming bright spot on the LASER maps. It turns out that some of the communities most vulnerable to air pollution and extreme heat impacts – like East Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, and the San Fernando Valley – also have some of the highest job creation potential through rooftop solar installation and energy efficiency, both of which also reduce climate and air pollution.

Fortunately, California is already planning to prioritize clean energy and other low-carbon investments in the state’s most vulnerable communities via proceeds from its successful cap-and-trade program. Just last month, California Governor Brown allocated $225 million specifically to disadvantaged communities, above the mandated 25 percent of program proceeds.

Data can overcome barriers

This set of visual tools can help overcome language, technical, and literacy barriers and bring all affected parties to the table to tackle difficult policy challenges. LASER maps serve as a valuable and empowering educational tool for communities facing increased risks as a direct result of climate change. Through increased understanding and openness, these maps can help create and advance a vision for a cleaner, healthier future for the region.

Information is power. It’s not just for the data crunchers, the politicians, or even the climate nerds; it’s for everyone and can start a conversation that everyone can access.

Also posted in Cap and trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Engaging Latinos | Leave a comment

Does Big Oil Really Care About Vulnerable Communities?

Jorge-MadridThere they go again… with the same lament we always seem to hear from Big Oil lobbyists when it's time to protect public health:

Don't put environmental protections on fuels, because that "will hit low-income and middle-income families the hardest." In other words, if you make us clean up our act, then we'll be forced to raise gas prices, which hurts vulnerable people… You don't want to hurt them, do you?

Hmmm. Do oil companies really care about vulnerable populations like low income people and communities of color? Could it be that they are using these families as a smokescreen for killing environmental protections and protecting their profits? Let's look at the facts and see if we can cut through some of this smoke.

Oil companies are among the most profitable enterprises in the world — last year the "big five" made $93 billion in profits, or $177,000 per minute. Even in my home state of California, which is at the forefront of environmental protections, Chevron is still the largest company by revenue (take that Apple and Facebook!). Many polluters have been claiming for decades that clean air standards will "cause entire industries to collapse," but those dire predictions have never come true. The idea that we have to choose between environmental protection and economic growth has always been a false choice.

Who is really to blame for high gas prices — and who stands to profit from that sick feeling you get when you're fueling your car and the price shoots past $40… $50… $60? Turns out an average vehicle uses $22,000 in gas over its lifetime, $15,000 of which (68 percent) goes right to oil companies. Further, an additional 25 cents in the price per gallon of gas at the pump every three months equals an additional $5 billionin profits for the big five oil companies.

Source: flickr/Jason Holmberg, Richmond, CA

Wouldn't it be nice to have some say in the matter? Some consumer choice? Unfortunately, most of us drive gas-powered vehicles and don't have any choice when we fill up. Big Oil has us in its grip: we pay what they say. The only way to lower prices in the long run, and reduce our vulnerability to price spikes, is to diversify our fuels and vehicle mix — exactly what new clean fuels policies will do in California.

Low income people and communities of color spend a much higher than averageportion of their monthly income on fuel, and are indeed the most over-burdened by high gas prices and vulnerable to unexpected price spikes. "Cheap gas" however, will not reduce their vulnerability in the long run.

Then there are the social costs of dirty fuels — the ones Big Oil isn't paying but everyone else is. The public health costs of air pollution and climate change. The poor and communities of color are especially prone to these costs, including high rates of lung and heart disease. In California, Latinos and African Americans account for nearly 75 percent of residents in the most polluted ZIP Codes — despite comprising only 44 percent of the state's population. According to the Environmental Protection Agency:

"African American children in California are four times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma compared to white children… African American and Latino children living in urban areas are two to six times more likely to die from asthma than whites."

Case In Point: California's Fight for Clean Fuels

So let's lift the mask off the latest masquerade of compassion: a last-ditch effort now underway by some oil companies and their political allies in Sacramento to derail the most comprehensive clean fuel policies in the country. Ironically, the policies they're attacking — the state's cap-and-trade program (C&T), which will include transportation fuels starting next year, and California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) — are already in place and working. And guess which constituency they are using to cover their political tracks? Spoiler alert: it's vulnerable communities.

The dirty fuels in California's transportation sector are the leading cause of pollution in the state — responsible for nearly 70 percent of smog-forming gases and 40 percent of climate change pollution.

By transitioning the state's transportation system to cleaner fuels, the C&T and LCFS will result in a cumulative public benefit of $23.1 billion by 2025. The C&T and LCFS together are projected to prevent 600 heart attacks, 880 premature deaths, 38,000 asthma attacks, and almost 75,000 lost work days as well as reduce consumption of 21.4 billion gallons of gasoline and 11.8 billion gallons of diesel fuel by 2025, according to a new report by EDF and the American Lung Association.

California is making waves (again) by leading the country with the most comprehensive climate, clean air, and clean fuels policies. By transitioning to cleaner fuels and vehicles, everyone will be less vulnerable to spiking oil prices and dirty air.

By attempting to rain on California's clean parade, Big Oil is using the same dirty tricks they've used for decades, and spinning a false story to try and derail these policies.

It's time these companies stop pretending to be champions for vulnerable communities; their oil-soaked billions and clouds of pollution spewing into low-income communities of color tell the real story.

Instead, maybe they should actually join the race toward a clean, healthy economy. We could use their technological prowess to help us get where we need to go. If they ever did that, then they could claim to be standing up for vulnerable communities — and really mean it.

This post first appeared on Huffington Post 

Also posted in Cap and trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Engaging Latinos, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Transportation | Leave a comment

Mapping the California Companies Fueling a Cleaner Future

green roads mapClean energy and clean tech sound exciting, but most people don’t see these businesses as a major part of our economy, especially when traditional fossil fuels rule at the pump.

But thanks to policies like California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and cap and trade, more and more businesses are giving us options when we need to get from point A to point B, and they form an increasingly important source of economic growth in the state.  From cars running on used vegetable oil (biodiesel) to cars you can plug into your house, new and exciting innovations are fast coming to market.

The new interactive Green Roads Map that EDF created in partnership with CALSTART, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), and the Natural Resources Defense Council, shows that we have many emerging options for our cars and transportation fleets, and that clean transportation is a flourishing industry in California.

The Green Roads Map is more than just a collection of dots- the map presents an important picture of the investors, researchers, producers, and salespeople who are transforming our economy and transportation system today.

The companies listed on this map span four key sectors: energy efficiency & vehicles, fuels & infrastructure, education & consulting, and investment, showing just how diverse and expansive this industry is in the Golden State. From Electric Vehicles International based in Stockton to A-1 Alternative Fuels Systems based in Fresno, innovation in clean transportation is right in your backyard.

The interactive map allows any state legislator, business person, or interested California citizen to zoom in on their district or neighborhood and identify the clean energy businesses growing in their own communities.

For example, Californians living in the city of Stockton can use this tool to get information about green technology companies that are located right in their backyard, all of which are providing jobs and benefiting the local community. One of these companies is Community Fuels, a company working to make biodiesel a viable and scalable alternative to dirty fossil fuels through rigorous research and quality production. Alternatively, the residents of Foster City can discover that Motiv Power Systems is working to place clean and affordable electric school and shuttle buses on the roads.

Transportation is California’s biggest contributor to climate change and air pollution – the latter of which is a critical health problem for many of our communities. The good news is that this growing green transportation industry is incentivizing cleaner, more efficient transportation and helping to clear the air- a triple win for business, people, and our climate.

While opponents seeking to derail these policies ignore a thriving clean transportation sector built in-part on the expectation that these policies will continue, the Green Roads Map shows Californians why efforts to delay or revise cap and trade and the Low Carbon Fuel Standard undermine the burgeoning economic growth and compromise the health benefits that come along with these policies.

The 300 plus companies on the Green Roads Map are innovating and moving us forward to a clean and more independent energy future.

Check out our new interactive map and if you see a clean transportation company in your neighborhood missing, let us know.

Also posted in Cap and trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Transportation | Leave a comment

The spread of green banking paves the way for clean energy investments

rp_Brad-Copithorne-Photo1-200x3001.jpgWhile no two “green banks” are exactly the same, the idea behind these government-created financial institutions is to dramatically expand the clean energy market. Rather than providing grants to stimulate clean energy investment, green banks use attractive interest rates and other incentives to leverage money from the private sector.

In addition to offering attractive interest rates, loan-loss reserves and other market supports, these innovative banks draw on deep expertise from the public and private sectors to help demonstrate the profitability of clean energy investments.

By the end of the year, green banks should be up and running in Connecticut, New York and Hawaii. We hope that California will follow soon. These states form a vanguard that has recognized the value of using a small amount of public capital to generate significant private investment in clean energy.

It’s working in Connecticut

In 2012, Connecticut created the first green bank, known as CEFIA,  in the United States. It did so by combining several state agencies, increasing their responsibility and funding, and leveraging a small amount of public funds to generate lots of private-sector investment. According to CEFIA’s 2013 annual report, for every one dollar of ratepayer funds CEFIA invested, roughly $10 was invested by private sources.

Connecticut’s Property Assessed Clean Energy program accounts for much of this investment. It lets commercial customers finance clean energy upgrades to their buildings through their property tax bill with no money down.  Additionally, CEFIA has been able to create an innovative financing solution that is expected to dramatically expand the market for solar projects on commercial properties. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy | Comments closed

Powering Up: How Three Companies Are Energizing the Electric Bus Industry in California

rp_ca_innov_series_icon_283x204.jpgEDFs Innovators Series profiles companies and people across California with bold solutions to reduce carbon pollution and help the state meet the goals of AB 32. Each addition to the series will profile a different solution, focused on the development of new technologies and ideas.

Los Angeles and California’s Central Valley have bad air pollution.  Sure, it’s not the 1970’s style pollution that doctors say was like smoking two packs a day, but California is still home to the top five most polluted cities nationwide.

Who: BYD America, Green Automotive, and Motiv Power Systems, three companies that each employ between 25 and 75 employees in California, and work to facilitate the use of electric buses in the state.

What: BYD America and Green Automotive manufacture heavy-duty electric vehicles, and Motiv Power Systems builds electric power systems to electrify buses.

Where: BYD America is based in Lancaster, Green Automotive is in Riverside, and Motiv is located in Foster City.

Why: All three companies are dedicated to expanding the use of clean, cost-effective transit buses, shuttle buses, and school buses in order to benefit the economy, environment, and public health.

The most significant offender is the state’s transportation sector, responsible for significant ground level ozone and nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.  Indeed, in too many California cities, the city buses and school buses are still powered on diesel fuel and spew harmful pollution into the air – further degrading the already compromised air.

Enter AB 32, a program that has created an entirely new way of thinking about transportation pollution and is resulting in powerful alternatives and new companies that offer a different approach to mobility.

BYD Ltd., Green Automotive, and Motiv Power Systems – are three companies working to accelerate the growth of electric buses and cost-effectively reduce pollution.

BYD Ltd., originally founded in 1995 to build batteries for small electronics, has significantly expanded their portfolio in recent years to include electric buses. They’ve opened an American factory in Lancaster and have already made inroads in that market by selling transit buses to Antelope Valley Transit and Los Angeles Metro, and recently showcased a new bus that runs up to 24 hours on a single charge. Read More »

Also posted in California Innovators Series, Clean Energy, Transportation | 5 Responses, comments now closed

Earth Day 2014: Time for Latino Leadership on Climate Change

Jorge-MadridToday is Earth Day, and the tens of millions of U.S. Latinos who breathe in the country’s dirtiest air, and often live in communities threatened by climate change, have reason to reflect and act!

2012 was the hottest year on record for the continental U.S., and 2013 was tied for the fourth hottest globally. When extreme weather like heat waves and super storms, which are projected to increase with climate change, hit the country’s crops, agricultural workers are devastated, poor people of color are disproportionately displaced from their homes, and those living with the worst air quality are even more at-risk for respiratory and heart related death (leading to some 7,000 additional fatalities each year).

And there’s more bad news regarding climate change. Take a look at these extreme heat projections in the West and Southwest U.S. for 2030. Or, check out sea-level rise projections in places like Miami and New York City for 2050, along with the corresponding threats for supercharged storms.

Notice something? Read More »

Also posted in Climate, Engaging Latinos | Comments closed

Fueling the Future: How California Businesses are Advancing Earth Day’s Vision

By Emily Reyna and Larissa Koehler

To mark the 44th Earth Day, EDF has released a new Green Roads map celebrating clean transportation, an economic sector that is helping the Earth by producing groundbreaking and sustainable technologies.

We Californians like to drive, but unfortunately our dependence on petroleum is harming our state, giving us the nation’s most polluted cities and the state’s biggest contributor to climate pollution (see the graph).

California greenhouse gas emissions by sector. Source: California Air Resources Board - May 2013 Investment Plan

California greenhouse gas emissions by sector. Source: California Air Resources Board – May 2013 Investment Plan

Fortunately, state policies like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and the AB 32 cap-and-trade program are helping to reduce damaging greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, while bolstering California’s economy and allowing green companies to grow and thrive.  In fact the number of clean transportation jobs in California tripled from 2001-2011. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Transportation | Comments closed

Lo que la creciente comunidad latina podría lograr para las políticas del cambio climático

rp_DSC_0012-Version-3-200x300.jpgTo read this post in English, click here.

En el 2012, los latinos fueron 1 de cada 10 votantes y ayudaron a decidir las elecciones presidenciales, estableciendo un margen récord de votantes.  El mes pasado en California, el estado más populoso de Estados Unidos, la población hispana sobrepasó la de blancos no hispanos.   El único otro estado a llegar a este punto es Nuevo México, cuya población hispana-latina es casi un diez por ciento mayor que la de blancos no hispanos.

Así como la población latina continúa a crecer en todo el país, así crece su influencia en áreas de política claves.  En aquellos estados que son campos de batalla de las elecciones, como Florida, Colorado y Nevada, los latinos representaron el 17, 14 y 18 por ciento de votantes en el 2012, respectivamente, lo que refleja un aumento con relación a elecciones anteriores.  La tendencia ha reavivado una animada discusión sobre la influencia de la comunidad latina estadounidense, el “gigante dormido” en la política del país.

También hay una tendencia política menos reconocida que está surgiendo entre los grupos más jóvenes y de más rápido crecimiento: la demanda entre latinos para actuar con el fin de hacerle frente al cambio climático.  Según una nueva encuesta nacional publicada el mes pasado por Natural Resources Defense Council y Latino Decisions: Read More »

Also posted in Climate, Engaging Latinos, Politics | Comments closed

What the growing Latino community can do for climate politics

DSC_0012 - Version 3Para leer en Espanol haga clic aquí

In 2012 Latinos made up 1 in 10 voters and helped decide the Presidential election with record-setting voter margins. Last month in California, the most populous state in the nation, the Hispanic population surpassed that of non-Hispanic whites. The only other state to reach this benchmark is New Mexico, where the Latino population is almost 10% larger than that of non-Hispanic whites.

As the Latino population continues to grow across the country, so does its influence in key political arenas. In battleground states like Florida, Colorado, and Nevada, Latinos accounted for 17, 14, and 18 percent of voters in 2012, respectively, an increase from previous elections. The trend has reignited a lively discussion about the influence of the American Latino community, the “sleeping giant” of American politics.

There’s also a lesser-known political trend that is emerging among the country’s youngest and fastest-growing demographic: the demand among Latinos for action to address climate change. In a new national poll released last month by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Latino Decisions: Read More »

Also posted in Engaging Latinos, General | Comments closed

LA Better Building Challenge Partners with EDF’s Investor Confidence Project to Accelerate Citywide Energy Efficiency Goals

By Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant

Source: LA Better Buildings Challenge

Environmental Defense Fund’s Investor Confidence ProjectSM (ICP) is pleased to announce a partnership with the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge to help develop a more robust marketplace for energy efficiency retrofits in the city. Los Angeles has set a goal of achieving 20% energy savings across 30 million square feet of existing buildings by 2020 as part of the Better Buildings Challenge, a national leadership initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. If achieved, it is estimated that this 20% reduction in energy costs will create over 7,000 high-quality local jobs, and avert annual carbon emissions equivalent to taking more than 18,000 cars off the road.

The LA Better Buildings Challenge will be promoting the ICP Protocols through its network of building owners and industry stakeholders to help bring even greater transparency and accountability to the energy efficiency market by introducing a system of standardization in the way commercial building retrofits are developed, funded, and managed. The ICP framework assembles best practices and existing technical standards into a set of protocols that define a clear roadmap for developing projects, determining savings estimates, and documenting and verifying results.

David Hodgins, Executive Director of the LA Better Buildings Challenge, describes how the partnership with ICP will help the project meet its goal. The mission of the LA Better Buildings Challenge is to support our partners in achieving a minimum of 20% savings by 2020, and to get there we need to have a clear path. We are excited to partner with ICP, which offers our partners a best-practice approach to developing, underwriting, and measuring the impact of their resource efficiency projects,” he said. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy, Smart Grid | Comments closed