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A grand goal: moving L.A. to only local water, renewable energy by 2050

Leaders from UCLA, the White House and Los Angeles today unveiled a university plan to turn Los Angeles into a global model for urban sustainability.

Speaking before an audience in Royce Hall, Chancellor Gene Block described the ambitious project, "Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles," whose goal is for the Los Angeles region to use exclusively renewable energy and local water by 2050 while protecting biodiversity and enhancing quality of life.

“The perilous effects of climate change are already here,” Block said. “By making Los Angeles environmentally sustainable, we’ll really light the path for the rest of the world.”

“Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles,” UCLA’s first Grand Challenge Project, seeks to raise $150 million for research on new technologies and policies. Six dozen faculty and staff from 30 centers and about two dozen departments have already united behind this common goal. For full details, read the news release or visit

In 2019, UCLA will provide regional decision-makers with a detailed plan for how to achieve full sustainability in greater Los Angeles by mid-century. This roadmap to sustainability will be backed by cutting-edge research, new technologies and breakthroughs, and recommendations on laws, policies and outreach, much of which will be tested first on UCLA's campus. The university plans to partner with local governments, foundations, private industry and other agencies.

“UCLA is uniquely qualified to bring us all together. Clearly the research capabilities of the faculty housed here is second to none,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “The innovative solutions for the 21st century are not going to come out of government …  They’re going to come out of people like you, like those who are housed here on this campus.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also lent his support via a pre-recorded speech.

“This initiative is incredibly important,” Garcetti said. “If any institution can lead this partnership into ushering L.A. into a greener future, it’s UCLA.”

Cristin Dorgelo, assistant director for Grand Challenges at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which has called upon universities to take on such initiatives, praised the UCLA project.

“This is not just going to be a local effort,” Dorgelo said. “It’s going to be one that can cross outside of UCLA and impact the world’s decisions related to sustainability as you achieve these breakthroughs.”

Also speaking today were philanthropist Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz; Tony Pritzker, chair of the board of advisors for the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability; and Mark Gold, associate director of UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and one of the faculty leaders of the Grand Challenge Project on campus.

“We’re taking on the greatest challenge of our time – climate change and all the resource problems caused by it,” Gold said. “UCLA’s strength and innovation will lead to a transformation of the Los Angeles region to become a global urban sustainability leader.”