FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22
October 29, 2020
Contact: Terence Cullen
NYC Council Passes Two Bills Strengthening Climate Mobilization Act
Expands Carbon Emission Cuts to More Buildings, Creates Good Jobs in Retrofits and Energy Efficiency
Astoria, NY — The New York City Council today passed two bills that significantly emboldened the Climate Mobilization Act, the historic legislative package the body enacted last year considered a cornerstone for a Green New Deal. This afternoon’s vote signals the Big Apple’s commitment to mitigate the effects of climate change — by targeting emissions from large buildings, the largest source of New York City’s pollution.
“This legislation will take a major step to strengthening the Council’s historic Climate Mobilization Act of 2019. The time for immediate action to mitigate climate change is now and this bill will maximize the greenhouse gas emissions reductions that our city can make while taking steps to limit the burden on already-struggling New Yorkers. I am proud of the work that the Council, through the leadership of Council Member Constantinides has taken to make this amendment a reality. I am hopeful that other municipalities, big and small, will follow on our footsteps,” says New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“Today, the New York City Council continued its promise to strengthen the Climate Mobilization Act,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Our work today will help New Yorkers get back to work in good jobs that make our air cleaner, kick-start the renewable energy revolution, and chart a course to a brighter, greener, safer future. I want to thank Speaker Corey Johnson, my Council colleagues, and the amazing advocates, especially the late Cecil Corbin-Mark, for making this possible.”
“Time is of the essence. Climate change is arguably the greatest long-term threat that New York City has ever faced, and buildings are our largest source of climate pollution. We are mandating ambitious carbon reductions from rent-regulated housing, a critical part of New York City’s housing stock, without unfairly passing the cost onto tenants. Just as important, we are requiring accountability from the City for meeting these essential emissions reductions. I am very proud to co-sponsor these two important bills and thank Council Member Constantinides for his unfailing leadership on this issue,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).
“Confronting the climate crisis and accelerating the transition to a green economy are not only urgent imperatives to preserve our future, but also offer the best path forward to rebuild our economy. The bills we are passing today will ensure that tenants in rent stabilized housing share in the benefits of cleaner air, that good, green jobs help us recover from this crisis, and that our city meets its goals to mitigate climate disaster. Thank you to Council Member Constantinides and Speaker Johnson for your leadership, and to all of the advocates who worked with us to make sure we followed through on the promise of strengthening the Climate Mobilization Act,” said Council Member Brad Lander.
“New York City and the Council must pass Int.1947 so we can build on the success of Local Law 97 and help improve the environment by cleaning our air from harmful pollutants. We do this by demanding more from our large buildings which are our biggest greenhouse gas emitters, however, we cannot do it on the backs of New York City’s renters and middle class. Int.1947 would also help lead to the creation of thousands of good-paying jobs, something our City is always in need of,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.
“It is proven that carbon emissions disproportionately impact the low-income, Black, and Latino communities. I thank Environmental Protection Committee Chairman Constantinides for the work he is doing to ensure the City moves towards a greener and more efficient direction,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “The Climate Mobilization Act was only the beginning, we must continue to advance initiatives that will further decrease the City’s emissions. As Chair of the Transportation Committee, I am proud to have worked alongside my colleagues on initiatives that will help decrease vehicle traffic and car ownership, further decreasing carbon emissions. However, this is not enough, I will continue to work alongside Council Member Costa Constantinides, the administration, and advocates to move the City towards a more sustainable future.”
Members voted 41-6 in favor of Into. 1947-A, which will expand the carbon emissions mandates under Local Law 97. Buildings in which up to 35% of units are rent regulated must now meet the ambitious, attainable targets set out in the CMA. This follows up on a 2018 promise to bring these buildings into the legislation — the largest carbon emissions reduction ever mandated by a city — once Albany fixed the law around Major Capital Improvements. Now that the state legislature has acted, this bill ensures tenants who are already struggling to get by don’t unfairly shoulder the cost of living in cleaner, energy efficient buildings.
Transparency is also crucial to the Climate Mobilization Act, which seeks a 40% reduction by 2030 from some 55,000 buildings. That’s why the Council today passed Intro. 2072, 46-1, to make sure the CMA is fully realized. This bill will require the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance to report which buildings are compliant with Local Law 97, which ones aren’t, and how the City is working to guarantee landlords hit their targets.
Buildings 25,000 square feet and larger account for just 2% of New York City’s 1 million structures, yet emit 30% of all greenhouse gases annually. The Climate Mobilization Act seeks to make the reductions climate scientists across the globe conclude are necessary for a sustainable future. The Urban Green Council last year estimated cleaning up these 55,000 buildings can create 141,000 jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity over the next decade.
“We applaud the New York City Council for passing Intro 1947, which will help safeguard affordable housing while adding thousands of buildings to the list of those required to reduce their emissions under the Climate Mobilization Act,” said Sonal Jessel, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “And we would like to thank Council Member Costa Constantinides for his leadership on this legislation, ensuring that all communities can become climate resilient without the risk of displacing affordable housing residents and accelerating gentrification.”
“This bill will create thousands of jobs and cut air pollution,” said Marie Pierre, member and board chair of New York Communities for Change. “It makes more of the real estate industry, NYC’s top polluter, clean up their dirty act. It’s time for a Green New Deal for New York.”
Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, “New York City must take bold actions to meet its emission reduction goals. Intros. 1947 and 2072 will help strengthen the Climate Mobilization Act by ensuring that critical buildings are not left behind and by adding transparency so that more buildings can actually meet the standards. These bills are a good step forward toward meeting the City’s 80 by 50 goal and toward including the very communities that are systematically overburdened by pollution. We thank Councilman Constantinides for his leadership.”
“Intro. 1947 demonstrates the power of the Green New Deal framework. Upon the passage of the Climate Mobilization Act, Council Member Costa Constantinides entered the Council into a covenant with advocates for environmental, economic, and housing justice. Our determination to democratize the energy transition redoubled successful organizing for rent reform in Albany. Today’s votes to expand the CMA signal that the systems-approach we forged makes our broad coalition stronger. We’ll battle on for sweeping progressive change at every level, united because climate justice does not happen in a vacuum,” said Harry Manin, Organizer at Sunrise Movement NYC.
“The passage of last year’s Climate Mobilization Act provided a model for how to fight the climate crisis in our city. I’m grateful for Council Member Constantinides’ continued leadership, particularly in today’s passage of Intro. 1947 and Intro. 2072, two pivotal pieces of legislation that strengthen the CMA. These bills are critical to New York City’s fight for climate justice and ensure the policies will be enforced. From the view of young organizers, the thoroughness of CMA, Intro. 1947, and Intro. 2072 are the gold standard for Council Members’ approach to climate justice policy,” said Shiv Soin, Executive Director of TREEage.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.