In honor of Earth Month, I wrote an op-ed
in this week’s Grunion Gazette discussing the dire impacts of global climate change. The facts are clear: carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere are the highest they have been in the past 800,000 years and global surface temperatures and sea levels are rising at alarming rates. This will have catastrophic effects for coastal cities like Long Beach.
Our city has already experienced prolonged drought, extreme heat, and sea level rise. Our beaches are overwhelmed with trash and pollutants flowing in from the LA River, and our communities along the I-710 corridor have higher rates of asthma-related health issues and substantially lower life expectancy compared to other parts of Long Beach. While we already experience the effects of climate change, future generations will suffer even more if we do not commit to advancing environmental sustainability on a mass scale.
In the face of these challenges, the City of Long Beach has become an environmental leader. Working with a robust group of community organizations and partners — including Algalita, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Long Beach 350, and the Long Beach Environmental Alliance — we have implemented innovative programs to mitigate climate change. We are developing a state-of-the-art storm water storage and treatment facility, building flood defenses, and planning for heatwaves and higher temperatures through our City's Climate Action & Adaptation Plan
We are also home to one of the most advanced international trade gateways in the world. The Port of Long Beach, commonly known as the Green Port
, has made significant strides to reduce emissions, transition to sustainable technologies, and implement a comprehensive Clean Air Action Plan in partnership with the Port of Los Angeles.
Furthermore, I spearheaded the “Generation Green Initiative” to improve the environment through smart policies for generations to come. As part of this initiative, in December 2016, I asked the City Council to support a citywide ban on single-use expanded polystyrene containers. We are now in the policy’s second phase of implementation
. We began by transitioning all City-owned facilities to renewable and recyclable containers, and now we are working to get larger restaurants to become foam-free. More than 50 businesses are already early adopters of the program and we expect many more soon.
This month, I also wrote a Council item recommending that the City support strong statewide policies to phase out single-use plastics by 2030. State Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080 promise to not only reduce waste, but also create incentives to produce more recyclable materials moving forward, and Long Beach should be a statewide leader in this effort.
I am proud of these actions to create a sustainable Long Beach, but I know there is still a lot of hard work ahead of us. Together, I am confident we can address these challenges and continue to be a leader in the fight against climate change.
For more information about how climate change impacts Long Beach, see the following local news coverage during Earth Month:
To learn more about the work being done in the city to advance sustainability, please join me at the Earth Day on Pine event tomorrow, April 27th, from 2-8 PM. The event will take place along Pine Ave. between 4th and 5th Streets.
My staff and I work hard to ensure the First District is a fun and safe place for all to live, work, and play. If you need any assistance, please feel free to contact my office at 562-570-6919 or District1@longbeach.gov.
All my best, LENA GONZALEZCouncilwoman, First District
City of Long Beach