Laying the Tracks for 2021


With the doors closed on 2020 and the 'train' for 2021 already leaving the station, we meant to share with you—our biggest supporters—the vision and long-term goals for Move LA. But January was just so darn busy that the 'train' has already arrived at February!

In January we started laying the tracks for our 2021 agenda by leading a successful Zoom call on the challenges and opportunities of pursuing a climate and clean air funding initiative to clean the air and curb climate change. We chatted with experts and advocates about the need to address the often overlooked Super Pollutants (methane, black carbon, HFCs and tropospheric ozone), and how and why they have fallen off the climate agenda.

And then we hustled to help rally transit advocates and riders and convince the Metro Board to reallocate at least $24.3 million to fund the restoration of transit service in this fiscal year, to vaccinate transit workers, and to provide more affordable, accessible, frequent, safe and reliable service for LA riders. Most of these riders are essential workers from low-income households in disadvantaged neighborhoods compromised largely of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color currently bearing the brunt of the COVID surge.

As the vaccines roll out and we see positive signs from a new Administration that shares our priorities on transit, housing, clean air, climate change, sustainability, and equity, we look to 2021 as an opportunity to make significant gains. As a coalition-building organization, we also recognize that this requires building—and flexing—community-driven power.

This is where you come in—can you join our monthly donor program and help to sustain Move LA’s work in 2021 and beyond? We are sustained by people just like you who believe deeply in our mission and our results.

Want to read more about our 2021 Work Agenda? Check out our recently updated website or keep reading for a summary of what is to come.

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ICYMI: Watch all 3 Climate & Clean Air Zoomposiums HERE


Move CA—a project of Move LA—and our northern California partner SPUR just completed the third Zoom meeting in our three-part series to talk with elected officials, experts and advocates about our proposal for a major statewide funding initiative to clean the air and curb climate change. We have learned a lot, and we are sure those of you who joined us learned a lot too.

Below is a link to the video of that Zoom meeting and videos from the two Zoom meetings that preceded it. We'll follow up with a second e-blast on major take-aways from the most recent conversation, which was lively and rich with ideas about how to we can stave off this double threat to Planet Earth and all who live here.

The third Zoom meeting focused on Super Pollutants, also called short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). Scientists consider SLCPs to be our biggest and most important near-term opportunity in the battle against climate change, and that it is imperative to reduce them at the same time that we reduce CO2, for several reasons including:

  • SLCPs are much more powerful climate forcers than CO2. They include methane, black carbon, HFCs and tropospheric ozone, and are responsible for at least 40% of global warming.
  • But these super pollutants decay much more quickly than CO2—some in a matter of days, others in as many as 15 years, while CO2 can last 200 years or more.
  • If we prevent more Super Pollutants from entering the atmosphere, existing SLCPs will soon decay and we can actually roll back climate change. Scientists say that if we act quickly to reduce them we can roll back back climate change by as much as 0.6 degrees Celsius.
  • If we do this it will keep us within the boundaries that have been set internationally to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. 
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Short-Lived but Deadly Super Pollutants Causing Major Temperature Increases Around the World

Short-lived climate pollutants, super pollutants, climate forcers—whichever you want to call them—seem to have gotten lost in the quest to curb climate change by reducing CO2. But unless we reduce these super pollutants we will not be able to avoid the frightening increases in temperatures that are being experiencing around the world. (The ports of LA and Long Beach, below, are a major source of super pollutants.) 

Super pollutants are probably the most under-appreciated and dangerous contributors to climate change, perhaps because they lose their warming power quickly: CO2 causes increased temperatures for 50-100 years, with 20% remaining in the atmosphere for thousands of years, while short-lived climate pollutants do their damage over much shorter periods and then disappear.

We can tame these powerful but overlooked climate drivers. To learn how join us for our Climate & Clean Air Zoomposium #3, Thurs., Jan. 21, 10-12 noon. RSVP HERE!

Black carbon's lifetime in the atmosphere is days or weeks in length; methane lasts up to 12 years; HFCs, or hydrofluorcarbons, last 15 years on average. But the problem is that we keep on replacing them with new emissions—from landfills, wastewater treatment, dairies and livestock, diesel-powered vehicles and wildfires—and their global warming potential is far greater than that of CO2. 

Methane, the most abundant short-lived climate pollutant, is about 75 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2; black carbon is hundreds to thousands of time more potent; and HFCs are tens of thousands of times more potent.

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COVID is Devastating Transit and the People who Operate and Ride It

Over the last week, we have read with dismay the reports from Metro that it is experiencing staff shortages due to the regional surge in COVID-19 casesabout 30% of Metro’s bus operators are either being quarantined, are caring for family members, or have the coronavirus. This has resulted in canceled trips. As The Source describes, some days see certain bus lines impacted more than others, which is “likely to result in crowding.”

COVID-19 is devastating our community right now and Black and Brown communities are especially hard-hit. Add Metro’s reduced bus service to the equation and the very people who depend on the bus to get to their jobs—many of them deemed “essential”—are being stranded at the moment they need reliable service the most.

Our friends at the TransitCenter wrote an important report on this very topic—about who is at risk of losing access to high-quality transit service as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates.

This is why we have been working with a group of inspiring transit advocates from across the United States to fight for public transit operations funding in the federal government’s relief bill. And we have been successful—the COVID relief bill that passed in December 2020 (which got so much press mostly about whether it would include $600 or $2000 stimulus checks) also included $14 billion for transit agencies and $10 billion for state transit agencies. Transit agencies and municipal bus operators in the Southern California region (inclusive of LA County, Long Beach, and Anaheim) will receive approximately $955 millionSimilar to the CARES Act, the supplemental funding will be provided at 100-percent federal share, with no local match required, and directs recipients to prioritize payroll and operational needs.


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What the Experts Told Us at Our 2nd Climate & Clean Air Initiative Zoomposium

We've been meeting with California's climate and clean air experts in order to undertstand where the state is in regard to goals for reducing climate and air pollution, what the state needs to ensure we meet or exceed these goals, and whether our proposed climate and clean air funding initiative could raise the money needed to accelerate our progress.

Unfortunately, we are not alone in questioning whether we are on track to meet or exceed California’s climate and clean air goals, which include:

  • The SB 32 target to reduce emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030;
  • Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order that all sales of light-duty cars and trucks be zero-emission by 2035, all off-road vehicles and equipment sales be zero emission by 2035 “where feasible,” and all medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales be zero-emission by 2045 “where feasible”;
  • The California Air Resources Board (CARB) first-in-the-world mandate, the Advanced Clean Trucks Rule, requires manufacturers to sell zero-emission trucks as an increasing percentage of sales starting in 2024. By 2035, 55% of all light-duty truck sales must be zero-emission and 75% of all medium- and heavy-duty truck sales must be zero-emission, and by 2045 every truck sold in California must be zero-emission.

Below are key takeaways from the conversation we had with nine panelists in early December, which focused on transportation, climate and clean air. The names of all nine panelists pictured above are listed at the end of this blog post. Our major take-aways from the event are below:

We must think about the climate change challenge together with air pollution and environmental and labor justice: 

The transportation sector in California is the primary source of both the pollutants that dirty our air and the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to climate change. The transportation sector—vehicles and fuels—is responsible for more than half of California’s GHG emissions, and more than 80% of the nitrous oxides (NOx) and other air pollutants that directly impact human health and hit low-income neighborhoods and communities of color the hardest. Air pollution, especially diesel emissions, is so impactful on these “frontline communities” because they are often located adjacent to busy freeways, ports, distribution centers, and railyards—where the heavy-duty diesel-powered trucks that emit the most air pollution and much of our GHG emissions operate. Cleaning up heavy-duty long-haul trucks—which are about one-eighth of all trucks in the South Coast Air District but produce about half of all diesel truck emissions—is especially important and will provide these communities with the most significant air quality, public health, and environmental justice benefits. 

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Transit is the Future! Long Live Transit!

Transit ridership has plummeted all over the U.S. in the wake of COVID, and experts agree $32 billion is needed to keep trains and buses moving. While the COVID relief package being debated in Congress is likely to include some funding for transit, it’s not likely to be anywhere near that amount.

This is why a broad coalition of transit advocates has come together across the U.S. to hold a series of online forums in big cities—including this one hosted by Move LA last week, which featured an impressive roster of elected officials, speakers and advocates.

Transit ridership has plummeted all over the U.S. in the wake of COVID, and experts agree $32 billion is needed to keep trains and buses moving. While the COVID relief package being debated in Congress is likely to include some funding for transit, it’s not likely to be anywhere near that amount.

This is why a broad coalition of transit advocates has come together across the U.S. to hold a series of online forums in big cities—including this one hosted by Move LA last week, which featured an impressive roster of elected officials, speakers and advocates.


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We Continue to Meet with Climate & Clean Air Experts

In the words of Nick Josefowitz, chief of policy at our Northern California partner organization SPUR, this is the Zoom call you want to listen to if you believe that we can do something about climate change, climate justice, dirty air that is killing Californians, and the wildfires that are devastating our community.

As you probably know by now, we are working with SPUR to create a major new funding source, possibly a statewide ballot measure in November 2022, to invest in strategies to fight climate change and clean our air.

While we would expect this measure to cover 20-30 years or more, in this discussion we focused the discussion on what could be funded in the first decade because we have looming climate deadlines in 2030—when California's goal is to reduce GHG emissions 40% below 1990 levels, which would put us on track to be carbon neutral—and we must meet federal air quality attainment deadlines by 2031, which in Southern California means emissions from all sectors must be reduced by more than 50%.

Unfortunately, we are not alone in questioning whether we are on track to meet California’s climate goals. Moreover, seven of the 10 cities that have the worst air pollution in the U.S. are in California, and tens of thousands of Californians are dying every year as a result.


TUESDAY: Join Us, Elected Officials, Agency, Business & Labor Leaders, Environmentalists & Other Important Advocates


As most of you probably know, public transit is in deep trouble because of the pandemic, because ridership and the revenues used to fund transit operations are greatly diminished in the aftermath of COVID. (El programa será interpretado al español.)

Experts agree that $32 billion is needed to keep this country’s trains and buses moving. While the COVID relief package being debated in Congress is likely to include some funding for transit agencies and their riders, it’s not likely to be anywhere near that amount.

This is why a broad coalition of transit advocates across the U.S. is holding a series of online forums in big cities—including this one hosted by Move LA, which will feature an impressive roster of elected officials, speakers and advocates (below).  

Transit revitalizes economies. The public transportation industry provides more than 435,000 jobs, and it’s estimated that every $1 billion invested in transit creates and supports 50,000 jobs. Transit provides the means for many working people to gain a foothold in the economy.

Don’t forget that transit is how so many nurses, doctors, caregivers, grocery clerks and other essential workers got to work before COVID and still get to work during COVID. Transit provides anyone, regardless of income, with freedom of movement, as well as access to jobs, education, goods and services, greater economic mobility, and lower household costs.

Please join us TUESDAY in our call for Transit Justice at our "Transit is the Future!" Zoomposium Dec. 8, 1:30-3:00 p.m. with elected officials, agency leaders, business, labor, environmentalists and other important advocates (see below)

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An Extraordinary Opportunity to Dramatically Reduce GHGs and Air Pollution

You might ask why, in our work to clean the air and curb climate change, have we chosen to focus on the transportation sector? It’s because transportation—cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships, planes, and off-road equipment—is responsible for more than half of California’s climate pollution (when emissions from oil refineries are taken into consideration), 80% of smog-forming pollution, and 95% of toxic diesel emissions.

The transportation sector is, as Governor Gavin Newsom said in September when he announced his Executive Order to reduce demand for fossil fuels used in transportation, “the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change.”


We are very optimistic about California's ability to lead the world in the fight against climate change, and this year the state took 2 very important steps forward. Governor Newsom's Executive Order on Sept. 23 directed the state to:

  • require that by 2035 all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California will be zero-emission vehicles and
  • ensure that all medium and heavy-duty vehicles will be zero-emission by 2045. 

We believe that banning the sale of cars and light-duty trucks that run on fossil fuels—a regulation on manufacturers—plus enhanced funding incentives to bring down the cost for buyers and to help building charging and fueling infrastructure—could accelerate deployment of zero-emission cars well beyond what could be achieved by regulation alone. This would bring light-duty zero-emission vehicles (both cars and trucks) to the point where we can envision the market soon operating on its own without the need for incentives.

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What Do These Climate Experts Think About Our Climate and Clean Air Initiative?

As you may know, Move CA (a project of Move LA) is working with our Northern California partner SPUR on the California Climate and Clean Air Initiative. We are convening discussions with California’s climate and clean air advocates and experts, with the goal of identifying a major new public funding source to invest in strategies that will ensure maximum and accelerated reductions in transportation emissions, both air pollution and greenhouse gases. We believe a statewide ballot measure is a viable option to achieve this goal. Visit the Climate and Clean Air Initiative website to learn more about, and follow, this effort. 

At our first Zoomposium on this subject in October, climate and clean air leaders advised us that the transportation sector provides the biggest and most immediate challenge because it produces 40% of California’s GHG emissions and 90% of the air pollution in our most polluted communities. It is perhaps also our biggest opportunity because zero-emission battery and hydrogen options are rapidly emerging across multiple new transportation arenas.

We were also told that California needs “a boatload of money”—as California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols described it—to achieve the state’s climate goals: to reduce GHGs 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050. (This would also enable us to meet the 2018 IPCC Report on Global Warming’s goal of 45% reductions below 2010 levels, also by 2030.)

We have 2 other major goals besides funding accelerated deployment of clean transportation technologies—we want to dramatically reduce short-lived climate pollutants or SLCPs, and also ensure that social equity and creating major opportunities for disadvantaged communities are hardwired into our investment program. We’ll be bringing more advocates and experts to the table in coming months to help us determine the best path forward.

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