Obama administration officials met with a nationwide task force of state and local leaders in Los Angeles Thursday to hear what the federal government can do to help communities confront climate change.
Gov. Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were among the governors, mayors and tribal leaders from across the country who joined federal officials for a closed-door meeting at Los Angeles City Hall. It was the second meeting since President Obama appointed the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience last fall.
At a news conference, Obama administration officials said they would listen to state and local governments and support their efforts to cope with rising sea levels, wildfires and extreme weather.
“It’s their understanding of the need to address this issue for the safety and health of their communities that is going to allow us to move forward and to spread the word about how we do this across the country,” said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Brown said California has led the nation in renewable energy, electric vehicles and other programs, but said they are only first steps.
“We’re going into what will be a tsunami of climate change if we don’t accelerate what we’re all doing,” Brown said.
The discussions focused on ways the federal government could improve disaster response and recovery and use federal transportation funding to make cities and states more resilient to extreme storms, officials from White House and the U.S. Department of Energy said at the briefing.
The federal government also could help by supporting upgrades to the electrical grid, financing renewable energy projects and using grants to encourage construction of eco-friendly infrastructure, the federal officials said.
Local governments could align their policies to encourage rooftop solar panels, “cool roofs” that reflect heat and streets that allow storm water to infiltrate and recharge aquifers, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
“This is not about abstract goals or sitting around and talking about a problem,” Garcetti said. “This is about burrowing down into actual solutions.”
The task force has more than two dozen members and first convened last December at the White House. The group is expected to meet at least twice more before submitting recommendations to President Obama later this year.
A few dozen demonstrators gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall during the meeting to protest the energy policies of Gov. Brown and President Obama, saying their support for oil and gas production is at odds with their climate change initiatives.
“We’re calling it a climate task farce,” said Brenna Norton, an organizer with the advocacy group Food & Water Watch.