By Linda O’Flanagan
Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomed the world’s leaders to the UN Climate Change Summit this week proclaiming New York City a leader in the battle to save the environment.
“New York City is firmly committed to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We are now the largest city in the world to commit to such a bold plan,ˮ de Blasio told delegates in the UN General Assembly Hall.
In his brief speech, de Blasio painted a bleak future for a complacent population, saying, “We know humanity is facing an existential threat. The cause is us — how we heat our homes, how we transport ourselves, the reckless way in which we live.
“This is an issue we all face. No one is spared. And our mutual need to survive should instill in us a kind of unity we so rarely experience.ˮ
The deadly Hurricane Sandy that killed 44 New Yorkers was just a prelude to a “far more lethalˮ future, he warned, adding: “We are not presented with options. We have only one choice – urgent, daring action.ˮ
On Sunday, the Mayor outlined his plan of action to protect New York and help thwart climate change building on the momentum of his predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, now the U.N.’s Special Envoy for cities and climate change.
The city’s greenhouse gas emissions are down 19 percent from 2005, because of a plan instituted Bloomberg, and energy efficiency upgrades will be made to every city-owned building by 2025.
“For private buildings, we’ll set ambitious targets for voluntary reductions, but if steady progress is not made, we will issue clear mandates,ˮ said deBlasio, adding, “Our long-term goal is bolder still — charting a path to a full transition from fossil fuels, and helping to build a more urgent international movement, starting with the C40 Climate Leadership Group.ˮ
Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, called de Blasio’s plan “a significant step forwardˮ to defend New York City and its residents from the impacts of climate change and rising utility costs.
A real estate investment services company that provides development capital for affordable housing and community development, the organization hailed the mayor’s focusing on greening multifamily buildings, subsidized and rent regulated housing.
In 2010, the City adopted a green policy that requires all new construction and substantial rehabilitation of affordable housing funded by City resources to meet the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, the national standard for green building in affordable housing.
The new commitment by the de Blasio administration extends the city’s commitment even further. Under the One City: Built to Last plan:
All existing buildings seeking City subsidy through its preservation programs will now need to conduct an energy efficiency evaluation;
The City will work with HUD to retrofit the NYCHA portfolio;
The affordable housing green grant program and the retrofit accelerator will fund energy efficiency upgrades while preserving affordable apartments;
Building staff will receive training to help make sure that these investments in efficiency result in savings.
“The Plan will help make sure families are safe from the physical and financial impacts of sea level rise, heat waves, and natural disasters at a time when climate change and rising utility costs are taking a distressing toll on our city’s low-income residents,ˮ said Kendi.
“As the leading voice for sustainability in the affordable housing field, Enterprise strongly supports the Mayor’s Plan.
“With the 2010 adoption of its green policy for affordable housing, the City and the affordable housing community demonstrated that green practice can become common practice with the right leadership and policies in place.ˮ
The Mayor also has the backing of the Real Estate Board of New York.
“Increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will help solidify New York’s standing as the world’s model of sustainability,” said Rob Speyer, chair of REBNY.
“Mayor de Blasio should be commended for his leadership, making New York the largest City to ever make this ambitious commitment, hopefully leading the way for other cities around the world to follow.”