Perhaps no challenge poses a greater long-term threat to our City than climate change. In the last two years, the Council has set an aggressive new goal in New York’s fight against climate change and has taken steps to improve the environment and support green programs for our constituents.
In the first year of this session, we passed a bill setting a bold new goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. New York is the largest city in the world to commit to this goal, cementing our status as a world leader in combatting climate change. This also sets the stage for the City to take aggressive steps to address climate change going forward.
Last year, we made sweeping changes to the Air Pollution Control Code, which had not been comprehensively updated since its creation in the 1970s. The revised Code will reduce emissions from char broilers, fireplaces, food trucks and refrigeration vehicles, which contribute to both lung diseases and global climate change.
In our first budget we established a new initiative, “A Greener NYC,” that funds 16 organizations operating environmentally-focused programs. The funding supports programs related to environmental education, advocacy, community service; and green-job training, contributing to the improvement and conservation of the City’s air, land, energy, open spaces, and other resources.
Last summer, expanding on previous legislation, we extended and expanded a prohibition on stores propping open their doors while operating air conditioners. This addresses energy waste, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and, by reducing the strain on the electric grid during times of “peak energy,” helps defend the City against the threat of summer blackouts.
In 2015, we passed a bill that will ensure the Department of Environmental Protection inspects, unclogs, and repairs catch basins more frequently, with no community neglected. The bill was passed in response to long-standing concerns about local flooding triggered by improperly maintained sewers and catch basins.
We recently passed a bill that promotes the use of geothermal energy in New York. Geothermal energy uses the constant heat beneath Earth’s surface – which is 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit in the City – to either heat or cool the buildings above-ground. Using geothermal energy in buildings instead of burning fossil fuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve local air quality, and create green jobs locally.