Climate change center opens at West L.A. College

Wave Staff Report

CULVER CITY — West Los Angeles College celebrated Earth Day a bit early, April 21, by dedicating the California Center for Climate Change Education, a first-of-its-kind, forward-looking resource that will help prepare students for good-paying, fulfilling careers in the clean energy and climate technology industries. On Earth Day this Saturday, the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) will celebrate the Although on the campus of West L.A. College, the center will be open to students from all nine campuses of the Los Angeles Community College District.

The center was funded with a state allocation of $5 million as part of Assembly Bill 1913, sponsored by Assemblyman Isaac G. Bryan, who represents the area in Sacramento; and $1.3 million from the federal government that was sponsored by then Rep. Karen Bass (now Los Angeles mayor) and Sen. Alex Padilla. The federal funding was approved in the Federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023.

“Climate justice is social justice,” Bryan said. “The financial and environmental impacts of climate change are felt most profoundly in Black, brown, indigenous, and low-income communities.”

“I was proud to advocate for the California Center for Climate Change Education, which will ensure California continues to lead the way in green energy innovation and climate justice.”

The California Center for Climate Change Education was built around serving six main goals: exploring and expanding internships and work-based learning opportunities in equity, environmental justice and green jobs; partnering with local and regional entities and experts to support the right kind of workforce development needed to modernize the energy grid and help with other climate resiliency efforts; serve as a resource for community colleges on climate change education, focusing on its roots of equity and social justice; build a clear pathway and roadmap for students interested in climate justice that provides the right degrees, certificates and education opportunities to build a career; foster partnerships with nonprofit organizations that provide opportunities for student internships and career-building opportunities; and  developing an annual urban climate change and sustainability conference.

“I am proud to celebrate the California Center for Climate Change Education, which will change lives and help our planet,” said Los Angeles Community College District Board President David Vela. “I have always believed that climate change is a social justice issue, and investing in a clean energy workforce will help create a better city, state and world for all of us.”

Establishing the Climate Center also helps provide a solid foundation for LACCD students pursuing higher education in the field. The University of California and the California State University campuses have established climate-focused initiatives in the past two years, with the UC Center for Climate Justice launching in 2022. 

West Los Angeles College is currently the only community college in the state that offers an associate’s degree in climate studies, which needs to be improved given the growth in jobs and the importance of these careers.

Recent legislation that made up the California Climate Commitment is expected to result in 4 million new jobs in clean energy, on top of those created by the Inflation Reduction Act. Community college students are well-positioned to meet this need and fill these critical positions.

“California is poised to be the leader in creating jobs in the clean energy sector,” said LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez. “The California Center for Climate Change Education will provide state-of-the-art education and training to position students for successful careers in one of the state’s fastest-growing industries. These jobs of the future pay well, while protecting our most precious and valuable resource —the earth.”

“Communities of color tend to face disproportionate negative impacts from the impact of climate change,” said James Limbaugh, the president of West Los Angeles College. “The California Center for Climate Change Education will help educate community college students to be advocates for their communities, to engage in learning experiences related to climate change mitigation, and to benefit from a comprehensive workforce development initiative.”

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