LA Climate Leaders Summit Ends On Forward-Looking Note
The two-day U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit concluded on Wednesday, but for many who attended the first-of-its-kind conference, it was just the beginning.
The main topic of discusison moderated throughout the summit's various panels and roundtables was what cities can do now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save our environment.
Gaddi Vasquez, senior vice president of Edison International - one of the many companies that helped to support this week's summit - said now is the time to have these discussions.
"The future is now and if you don't plan and manage the future, we will suffer the consequences," said Vasquez.
Among the state and local political leaders that attended the conference was L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Garcettii sat down with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi to discuss how the U.S. and China can learn from one another and work together to fight climate change.
For Garcetti and the city of Los Angeles, this would be a monumental moment in history.
"I feel like I'm in a chapter of history and we're turning the page together," Garcetti said to a room full of Chinese and U.S. representatives as he sat beside Jiechi.
Vice President Joe Biden was also in attendance to show his support and press the White House's urgent call for action to put a stop to climate change.
Of all the topics discussed Tuesday and Wednesday, the partnership between the U.S. and China to encourage the rest of the world to go green interested summit-goers the most.
Hilda Blanco, a research professor at the University of Southern California's Price School of Public Policy studies climate change. Her work as Interim Director at the USC Center for Sustainable Cities keeps her abreast of the latest developments and discussions involving greenhouse gases.
"I'm very interested in this, because China is such an important player," said Blanco.
Lucas Yao, a general manager at Shenzhen Coolead Energy Conservation Technology in China, believes both the U.S. and China are players that together can win the race to an emission-free world.
"I see there are opportunities and potentials that China and the U.S. can have great collaboration and dedication to save energy."
Yao's company is the only consultant company in Shenzhen, China that specializes in pro-green technology.
At the conference, there were several information booths lined up for the 500-plus visitors to stop by and learn more about their individual efforts to make our world green.
The "Race to Zero Emissions" booth has started a friendly virtual competition between the United States and China to get as many zero emission buses on the roads as possible.
Matthew Kahn, author of the 2010 book "Climatopolis" and economy expert at the University of Southern California, argues this leadership summit is a great way to encourage the right type of competition among global leaders to keep cities around the world on track to achieving their personal goals.
This week, the U.S. pledged to reduce its own emissions to at least 80% of what they were 25 years ago by 2050.
Today, summit-goers and critics watching the race from the sideline want to know if these long-term goals are in fact achievable.
According to Kahn, these goals can be reached so long as people - from all levels of society - are prepared to find the right solutions that work within our society.
This is especially true for Los Angeles, which is, "such a huge metropolitan area, it can certainly lead the state and country in reducing greenhouse gases," agreed Blanco.
However, cleaner vehicles is just one remedy.
"Climate change is going to pose challenges of heat waves, droughts, fire, and air pollution and electric vehicles will help to mitigate that," said Kahn.
Climate change talk and more of what was discussed at this week's summit will continue through next week in Washington, D.C. where President Obama is expected to speak.