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NYC’s Green New Deal: Everything you need to know

'We aren't hiding from climate change'

April 22, 2019 Scott Enman
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City's Green New Deal on Monday. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography

Mayor Bill de Blasio approved an ambitious $14 billion plan on Monday to attack global warming and combat climate change.

New York City’s Green New Deal will drive a nearly 30 percent additional reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2030 while also creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

“Every day we wait is a day our planet gets closer to the point of no-return,” de Blasio said. “New York City’s Green New Deal meets that reality head on. We are confronting the same interests that created the climate crisis and deepened inequality.

“There’s no time to waste. We’re taking action now, before it’s too late.”

The mayor’s announcement comes on Earth Day and just four days after the City Council approved the deal. The bold proposal takes steps toward adhering to the Paris Climate pact, and New York will become the first city in the world to mandate that all large existing buildings significantly cut their emissions.

All buildings of 25,000 square feet or more, of which there are 50,000 citywide, will be required to make efficiency upgrades that lower their energy usage and emissions or they will face steep penalties.

Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography

“The need for stringent mandates was nonnegotiable,” de Blasio said at a press conference on Monday. “There’s too much at stake. So we listened on better ways to do it, and we listened to ideas about what would be practical, but where we weren’t going to bend is, we must get the result. And if we don’t get the results, there will be real fines.”

As part of the deal, the city will also work to reduce vehicle emissions, convert all government operations to 100 percent clean electricity and implement a plan to ban inefficient all-glass buildings that waste energy.

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The city will also make organics collection mandatory citywide, expanding the program from a current selection of neighborhoods.

The city will also end unnecessary purchases of single-use plastic food ware.

For Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, however, one of the most exciting aspects of the Green New Deal is the city phasing out its reliance on processed meat and reducing its purchasing of beef by 50 percent.

“I am particularly thrilled that this city has taken up our mantle to reduce our overconsumption of meat through the phasing out of processed meat purchasing and the reduction of beef purchasing,” Adams said.

“Make no mistake, addressing the carbon-intensive activity of meat production is a sustainable solution for the health of our bodies and our planet alike.”

Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography

De Blasio also took the opportunity to criticize President Donald Trump’s lack of action on global warming, saying “there’s no plan coming from Washington to save our planet” so “we have to do it ourselves.” He added, “Unlike [Trump], we aren’t hiding from climate change.”

De Blasio also touted the city’s congestion pricing plan and said his administration would continue to find better mass transit options in the future.

U.S. Rep Nydia Velázquez, who represents parts of Brooklyn, said she hoped other cities would follow the lead of New York after the historic deal.

“New York can be a leader for the rest of the nation in combatting the growing threat of climate change,” she said. “Addressing this pressing danger will require working federally, locally and internationally.

“I’m hopeful that by adopting a Green New Deal, New York City can help lead the way for other cities, states and localities in reducing carbon emissions and building a more sustainable economy that creates jobs and opportunity, while preserving our planet for future generations.”

Below are key points from the Green New Deal:
• Committing to carbon neutrality and 100 percent clean electricity by 2050
• Requiring buildings to cut their emissions – a global first
• Banning new inefficient glass-walled buildings
• Hydro-powered city government
• Mandatory organics recycling
• Reducing waste and carbon-intensive consumption
• Aligning with U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The City Council also passed a package of three bills on Thursday that would require 100 percent of new residential and commercial buildings to install green or solar rooftops.

The legislation, created by Councilmembers Rafael Espinal, Donovan Richards and Stephen Levin, would also require any homeowner doing renovation on their existing rooftop to invest in green infrastructure.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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