Working together to clear the air on California Clean Air Day

Working together to clear the air on California Clean Air Day

// By Jacqueline Brennan

/ By Tamieka Briscoe /

Finding solutions to protecting the environment will be among the important challenges discussed when changemakers gather November 14 – 16 in Los Angeles for Upswell. And over 700,000 Californians are working to address that issue today – Wednesday, October 3 – by pledging to stand with the Coalition for Clean Air to “clear the air” with a statewide initiative called “California Clean Air Day.”

This important initiative comes at a critical time, with Los Angeles having endured a record-setting 87 consecutive days of smog this summer between June 19 and September 14, reportedly the longest stretch of bad air in the last 20 years. Air pollution rose well above federal health standards to dangerous levels, which is troubling because smog triggers asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Of the reported sources of air pollution in California, transportation causes 41 percent of emissions, followed by industrial sources with 23 percent.

As part of the California Clean Air Day pledge – individuals, companies, government entities, and communities alike are being asked to commit to a unified day of action that will include focusing on simple changes to their normal activities to improve air quality.

Participants can pledge as an individual or family, or as an organization or entity and residents are encouraged to “participate in a way that makes sense for them.” They can design an environmentally safe plan of their own, or follow suggestions offered by the Coalition, including telecommuting, biking to work or school, taking public transportation, carpooling, attending meetings remotely instead of driving, or even simply bringing a lunch or walking to lunch in lieu of driving.

Other suggestions include selecting “line” or “pool” options when using ridesharing services like Lyft or Uber, changing the air filter at home and in vehicles, committing to using natural all-purpose cleaners exclusively, and quitting smoking or vaping.

Various corporations and state government entities are lending their support to the cause through sponsorship, and Dignity Health, Lyft, and California electric and gas companies signed on as sponsors and reaffirmed their commitment to continuing to use their resources and design processes to improve air quality.

Metro, the Los Angeles public transit authority, has designed commemorative “Clean Air Day” metro “TAP” cards; and auto manufaturer Honda, which produces zero emission vehicles, also took the pledge.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti promoted Clean Air Day by taking the metro and is leading initiatives to continue to support this cause. The Coalition for Clean Air posted the following about Mayor Garcetti to their website:

“Because vehicles emit 90 percent of Southern California’s air pollutants, Mayor Garcetti has worked hard to give Angelenos a zero-emissions alternative to get around town — leading the City to build new rail lines and over 1,800 publicly available EV chargers across the city.”

This is California’s inaugural Clean Air Day, and the Coalition for Clean Air is hoping other states will follow their lead.

Tamieka Briscoe is an associate at Independent Sector.

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