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Good news! The Los Angeles City Council recently passed a motion to establish a “cooling target” for the City– in other words, it will soon be setting a target to cool the city and reduce the urban heat island effect in order to protect LA from the impacts of climate change.

Freeway in Los Angeles, 2009. (Photo Credit: Myriam Thyes)

Freeway in Los Angeles, 2009. (Photo Credit: Myriam Thyes)

TreePeople was able to play a role in inspiring this progressive motion, thanks to our partnership with work translating solutions from Australia to work for LA.

Councilmember Felipe Fuentes joined TreePeople on our delegation tour to Australia, to learn about drought solutions developed during their 12-year Millennium Drought. One of our major findings was that a robust urban forest is LA’s first and best defense against extreme heat.

Australia experienced severe heat with temperatures rising to 115 degrees, with heat waves lasting for several consecutive days, resulting in hundreds of deaths across the country. Studies found that average temperatures in Melbourne–which has a population equal to the City of LA—are up to 9 degrees higher than the neighboring suburbs due to the urban heat island effect. As a result, vulnerable communities—particularly the elderly, children and poor–are more likely to suffer increased health risks. The same is true for us in Los Angeles.

When it’s that hot, metropolitan areas are at risk for many reasons as our cities are just not built to handle those temperatures. For example, it can be difficult for cities to keep up with the spikes in energy  used power air conditioners, that is–for those that even have access. Those without access are impacted even more.

That is why our best defense against extreme heat is a robust urban tree canopy. Trees reduce the urban heat island effect, increase our local water capture and lower our dependence on air conditioning.

Thanks to this motion, the City of LA is now on its way to establishing a cooling target for our city, with a priority on strategies to benefit our most vulnerable communities.

Take action! Thank Councilmember Fuentes for his leadership on this front. twitter

(This article originally appeared on TreePeople. It has been reprinted here with permission.)

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