De Blasio Wants NYC To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050: Gothamist
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a Green New Deal for NYC at a press conference in Long Island City on Monday. (Jake Dobkin/Gothamist)
New York City will get its own Green New Deal, Mayor and rumored 2020 candidate Bill de Blasio announced on Monday, in honor of Earth Day. With the city’s wildly inefficient waterfront glass and steel skyscrapers as a backdrop, de Blasio outlined what his office calls “a bold and audacious plan to attack global warming on all fronts,” or OneNYC 2050.
The overarching goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, by sourcing “100 percent clean electricity.” Until then, the mayor says this new plan will bring down the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent, which, combined with previous efforts should put us on track to make a 40 percent cut by 2030.
De Blasio projects these initiatives to cost about $14 billion, an investment he described as necessary if we want to head off drastic changes to our daily lives. (Which, as recent climate reports have emphasized, will materialize much sooner than expected if we do not take immediate steps to correct course.)
“I can’t think of anything better to spend money on than saving the Earth,” de Blasio said.
The announcement comes days after the City Council passed a legislative package called the Climate Mobilization Act, and which has also been referred to as a “Green New Deal for New York City.” The centerpiece of the CMA was an emissions cap on buildings 25,000 square feet and up (with exceptions for houses of worship and rent controlled and affordable housing), compelling landlords to retrofit their buildings beginning in 2024 or face hefty fines. The legislation aims to slash buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions—which currently account for almost 70 percent of the citywide total—by 40 percent in 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.
OneNYC 2050 leverages that bill, and takes the building regulations one step further by banning construction of energy inefficient, glass-facade structures. City government will “pursue 100 percent carbon-free electricity supply” via Canadian hydropower because, de Blasio explained, the municipal government currently eats up more energy every day than the entire state of Vermont. The plan also involves eliminating single-use plasticware and scaling back the purchase of processed meats and beef.
Notably, it would also implement mandatory organics recycling, or composting, a venture that’s proved tricky in the past. Last summer, for example, the Sanitation Department paused the expansion of its composting program, due to inefficiencies and some confusion among New Yorkers as to what went into the brown organics recycling bins distributed by the city. Also, the small problem of rats and roaches congregating in and around food bins left to bake in the sun seemed to dampen participation rates. Anyway, expansion is back on (pending legislation), so here’s hoping the city has worked out some of those kinks.
OneNYC 2050 also touches on pre-existing plans to shore up the city’s defenses against natural disasters and storms, and reiterates his very recent commitment to congestion pricing as a means of “fix[ing] our broken subway system” and helping buses get where they’re going on something like a schedule.
Before convening the press conference, de Blasio appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to tout the program and also clarify whether or not he actually plans to run for president. During his time slot, de Blasio wound up fielding questions about his own carbon footprint: if he’s so concerned about the environment, why does he continue to take an SUV 11 miles from his home on Manhattan‘s Upper East Side to a YMCA in Park Slope for his workouts?
“Let’s make clear, this is just a part of my life,” de Blasio replied. “I come from that neighborhood in Brooklyn. That’s my home. I go there on a regular basis to stay connected to where I come from and not be in a bubble that I think for a lot of politicians is a huge problem.”
(Because normal, connected people have drivers to cart them 11 miles to their gym of choice, they definitely don’t just take the subway.)