Climate Leadership in LA: Interview with Kiana Lucero

Posted by on June 21, 2017

Cross-posted on the Path to Positive Los Angeles blog.

Kiana Lucero is the Project Coordinator at the Institute for Sustainability at Cal State University Northridge (CSUN), and a speaker for Climate Day LA.

Tell us about your work on climate change.

Sustainability is one of the seven priorities at CSUN and we have set a goal to achieve net zero emissions (carbon neutrality) by 2040. Steps we have already taken to help meet this goal include: solar panel installations, LED retrofits, use of a fuel cell plant on campus, installing meters on buildings to help monitor energy consumption, and completing a commuting survey of faculty, staff and students. CSUN is a largely commuter school, with more than half of our carbon emissions being a result of individuals driving to campus. In order to reach our carbon neutrality goal, we will be largely increasing our solar production and investment in renewables, striving for all new construction to meet LEED Gold or higher standards, and working to support alternative transportation options such as electric vehicles, bicycling, and public transportation.

What inspired you on your career path? And what or who inspires you now?

My background is in working with exotic, captive animals and teaching the public about issues that their wild counterparts face. A major goal of mine has always been to raise awareness about what humans are doing to natural habitats and what we can do to stop, and even reverse those damages. I began working at CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability because I saw an opportunity to reach students and the public and implement change on a large scale. I am inspired by the students’ eagerness to create positive change in the world, whether it is making small changes in their diet, boycotting plastic items or working toward reversing the effects of climate change and habitat loss.

What are the barriers you face in work — and what could make your job easier?

Getting our message out to a larger audience seems to be our biggest obstacle. Through our sustainability classes, we are able to see the effect that learning about issues such as climate change, waste, and diet choices has on the students. We also host special events related to sustainability topics and post informational signage around campus, but these do not have as large of an impact as direct education in classroom setting. Having a larger captive audience would definitely help us educate more people and spread the message of sustainability!

A genie grants you two wishes that will help fight climate change. What do you ask for? The third wish is for anything you want (sky’s the limit!).

I would ask for an immediate switch to renewable energy so that fossil fuels are no longer used as an energy source. My second wish would be for a carbon-sucking devise that removes carbon — not only from the atmosphere, but also reduces the acidity of the oceans so that coral reefs can return to their original splendor. For my third wish, I would love to see a reversal of all animals that are currently headed toward extinction or have already gone extinct due to human activities.