L.A. Mayor: Climate Change Is Real, and Cities Will Fight It

September 17, 2018

By Jamil Smith

It is no secret that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is pondering a 2020 run for the White House. Last December, he admitted — in Spanish, no less, during a Univision interview — that he is “thinking about” it, and has even made recent swings through Iowa and New Hampshire. Garcetti, who won re-election last year in a landslide, is term-limited; so if he doesn’t make history and become the first mayor to vault to the Oval Office, he’ll be looking for another job in 2022. However, none of that was on my mind (or his, it seemed) when we met up at a hotel restaurant in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon. We were there to talk about slightly bigger stakes than his career goals: namely, the fate of the planet.

Earlier that day, I moderated a panel featuring Garcetti at the Global Climate Action Summit , a three-day conference co-chaired by California Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on what cities, states and businesses can do to confront climate change – particularly in light of our current president’s reckless climate record. “While Washington refuses to act, while homes are lost, while firefighters are dying,” Garcetti said during the panel, “American cities are saying this is real and we will take action.”

Garcetti, 47, who co-founded the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, has preached since his first day in office that he wants L.A.’s culture of car ownership to end. On Tuesday, he set a mutual goal, along with the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to make their cities’ transportation systems more sustainable before Paris hosts the Olympics and Paralympics in 2024 and Los Angeles does the same in 2028. 

With its pollution and wildfires, climate change should be a central issue to anyone living in Los Angeles — let alone to the man running it. But I am never one to assume — so I wanted to know why this matters so much to him, what he is doing to make Los Angeles cleaner, and what he thinks about a president who works to make the problem worse.

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