Tonight the UC Davis Sustainable Transportation Center and the student chapter for the Institute of Transportation Engineers will hold “Preparing for the New Paradigm: Implementing California’s Climate Change Goals,” a career panel for students interested in pursuing careers in climate change.
The career panel is open to a variety of majors and is an opportunity for both undergraduate and graduate students searching for internships and careers to meet with representatives from public and private sectors who work in fields including city planning, transportation and environmental policy as they relate to climate change.
Tonight’s event will focus primarily on land use planning and transportation issues associated with climate change.
“I am interested in a career in policy making,” said Kristin Donovan, an environmental policy analysis and planning major. “I feel that actions need to be taken to educate people on the impacts it [climate change] is having on our daily lives.”
The event will feature five expert panelists under the state of California representing the California Air Resource Board, the Business, Transportation and Housing Committee, the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and the Office of the Attorney General.
“It’s important to reach out to students from a variety of academic backgrounds – health, engineering, social science – if we really want to figure out how to decrease vehicle travel and greenhouse gases,” said Lauren Hilliard, a graduate student researcher from the Institute of Transportation Studies who organized the event. “The whole point is to engage students with people in the field who implement climate change laws and who all have different pieces of the puzzle at the macro and micro level.”
Representatives from California High Speed Rail Authority, Caltrans and the Planning and Conservation League will also be in attendance.
“There are a lot of opportunities for careers in climate change within the legal field,” said Lisa Trankley, who works for the Environmental Section of the Deputy Attorney General. “A lot of pressure is placed on companies to address climate change, so business attorneys are familiarizing themselves with climate change issues and representing the state agencies who implemented these laws.”
The panel is held partially to address the assembly and senate bills recently passed by the state that address climate change through a reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. Two bills most crucial to tonight’s discussion are Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 375, both of which determine how the state’s laws address climate change.
AB 32 was passed in 2006, following an Executive Order from Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005 to establish a goal to reduce GHG emissions by 80 percent by 2050. This bill requires a 25 percent reduction of GHG from the estimated “business as usual” conditions.
Signed into law in September 2008, SB 375 requires the California Air Resource Board to establish GHG targets for each Metropolitan Planning Organization in California, yet does not include any consequences for regions that do not meet their targets.
Hilliard noted that despite the economic crisis, the demand for professional and academic careers in fields related to climate change continues to grow due to the recent implementation of these bills, and that there are new opportunities for students interested in sustainability issues.
“Internships provide students with a chance to test various types of organizations, ranging from public to private and state to local levels,” Hilliard said. “The opportunity to pursue internships as a student is probably the most beneficial aspect of higher education.”
The climate change program includes a question and answer session with the panel of experts, a discussion of their views on AB 32 and SB 375, and a raffle for those who bicycled, walked, carpooled or took transit to the event.
“Yes, the market is tight, but if you are passionate about it [climate change], you can find something,” Hilliard said.
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