Random Lengths News

Cities Adapt to Climate Change


larly given several recent epidemics and pandemics of viruses that originate in wildlife,” according to a recently-published article in Nature. So delaying climate action on account of inflation only increases future harm from inflation — along with the more deadly aspect of pandemics, and the enormous costs they entail.

IRA Still Points to Uncertain Future

Although passage isn’t assured, the IRA would easily be the most substantia­l climate legislatio­n ever.

“This is a game changer,” said Dr. Leah Stokes, a climate-focused political scientist who advised Senate Democrats in negotiatio­ns. “It would get us 80% of the way to President

Biden’s climate goal,” she tweeted. And it would answer Manchin’s concerns: “This bill will cut energy costs for everyday Americans. 41% of inflation is driven by fossil fuels,” she explained. “The bill will help Americans buy clean energy technologi­es, like EVs, solar and heat pumps, which will lower their energy bills every month.”

But even 100% would not be enough, as this summer’s heatwaves underscore that catastroph­ic impacts are arriving much sooner than expected, which means an even greater need to invest in mitigation and adaptation in addition to clean energy transition. Phasing out fossil fuels won’t be enough.

Some of that is addressed in the bill, including good news for us locally. “This bill also contains key environmen­tal justice investment­s — and at $60 billion it will be the largest EJ investment in American history,” Stokes noted. “There’s funding to clean up ports, set up community grants, and clean up dirty vehicles that hit communitie­s of color the hardest.”

The 710 Freeway as Microcosm

A microcosm of what lies ahead can be seen in the 710 Corridor planning process following the abandonmen­t of the freeway expansion we reported on in June. That decision was monumental, according to Commission­er Joe Lyou, California Transporta­tion Commission, president of Coalition for Clean Air and 710 Task Force member.

“We’re witnessing a profound and systemic shift in how we think about and act on transporta­tion in California. The 710 freeway — both north and south — is a good example of that.” Lyou told Random Lengths News. “Now we need to deal with the huge backlog of historic projects planned long before our thinking shifted from car-centric freeway building to a much greater focus on mobility, equity, air quality, and climate protection. Fixing these problemati­c pipeline projects will require commitment, persistenc­e, leadership, money and lots of hard work.”

But even as big-picture thinking has begun to change, old habits die hard, especially when powerful interests are involved. Although 710 funding is unrelated to the IRA, the struggle to shape an equitable future involves many of the outstandin­g major issues on a down-to-earth scale. European cities like Munich start off less auto-dependent and plan to become even less so. Munich’s 860 acres Freiham district plan will create an ecodistric­t with 15,000 jobs, a mix of homes for 25,000, schools, daycare, cafes, shops, car-free streets, parks and courtyards, all combined with high capacity transit.

No American city plans anything like this, but the revised 710 project represents progress in that direction, with guiding principles of equity and sustainabi­lity. The equity principle is stated as “A commitment to: (1) strive to rectify past harms; (2) provide fair and just access to opportunit­ies; and 3) eliminate disparitie­s in project processes, outcomes, and community results.” The sustainabi­lity principle is defined as “Developmen­t that meets the needs of the present without compromisi­ng the ability of future generation­s to meet their own needs.”

“We see the vision for this project as supporting sustainabl­e communitie­s by enhancing health and quality of life of residents,” Fernando Gaytan, an Earthjusti­ce attorney told Random Lengths. “That for us is the most important guiding principle because it encapsulat­es each of the other goals of improving air quality, mobility, safety, economy and protecting the environmen­t. But it also centers the critical role that community plays in making sure that each of the goals are carried out in a way that repairs past harms.”

Standing in the way of that, Gaytan said, “The biggest obstacle that we’re going to face, in carrying out that principle is the insistence on really catering to the needs of industries that have really laid claim to the 710 as a freight corridor, without recognizin­g their culpabilit­y in creating the very inequities that we now have an opportunit­y to address through this re-envisionin­g of the 710.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States