City Council Must Pass Bills to Fight Climate Change

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New Yorkers can fight climate change one bus ride at a time. And that will be easier if a bill is passed to create a citywide bus rapid transit network.


New Yorkers can fight climate change one bus ride at a time. And that will be easier if a bill is passed to create a citywide bus rapid transit network.

On Monday, March 16th, hundreds of labor, community and climate activists descended upon Lower Manhattan to attend the “Our City, Our Climate” forum hosted by The People’s Climate Movement-New York, a network of groups formed out of the host committee of the People’s Climate march in New York last September. It was a forum focused on assessing and reviewing pending climate and environmental legislation and resolutions in the City Council.

The forum also featured Vanuatu’s United Nations Ambassador Odo Tevi. Vanuatu, a small Pacific island with a population over 250,000 situated between Hawaii and Australia had been hit by category-5 Tropical Cyclone Pam just a few days earlier. Ambassador Tevi came with a warning: “Climate Change is not a local issue. It is a global issue and we must all work together to combat this moral crisis.”

For the People’s Climate Movement, global climate change is the greatest crisis humanity has faced on this earth. It must be addressed in the 21st century to counter effects that are very apparent: warming and rising seas, shrinking glaciers, growing water shortages in some of our most fertile regions and extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy.

It’s a global issue with tangible local solutions like implementing pro-environmental legislation right here in New York. The City Council is considering a number of comprehensive laws to combat climate change, including but not limited to making buildings more energy efficient, promoting low-carbon transportation and connecting the unemployed to green jobs.

Another piece of proposed legislation would expand the Bus Rapid Transit network and advocate for changes in state law that support additional lines. This initiative increases public transportation that is necessary to replace use of cars, since existing systems are already taxed. It further could partially substitute for the subway lines should they be shut down by extreme weather.

There has already been local progress: Last November the City Council passed an “80 percent by 2050” carbon emissions reduction bill and it became law in December 2014. This is in line with goals set by both the State of New York and President Obama, who last June took executive action on climate change. Under his proposed Clean Power Plan, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, will oversee plans to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030. And more recently, the president has brokered deals with two of the biggest CO2 emitters—China and India—on climate and clean energy cooperation.

At the local level, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently released the NPCC3 report 2015 (New York City Panel on Climate Change) which emphasized increasing the current and future resiliency of communities, citywide systems, and infrastructure around New York City and the broader metropolitan region. This is a good step forward by the Mayor, after being silent on the issue since coming into office. However, the report doesn’t go far enough. Our policy leaders need to look at a no-carbon economy through changing our energy supplies, reducing our energy use, and reducing the burden we place on the resources of our finite planet.

New York City played a major role in bringing global awareness to the climate change challenges that we all face last September, when over 400,000 people marched through the streets demanding action on climate change. All of America heard us that day and so did the global community. The moral demands are also clear: climate justice for frontline communities and “a just transition to the new energy infrastructure and equity for all,” as proposed by Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, President of New York State Nurses Association.

The science of climate change, backed by 97 percent of the scientific community, is real and the solutions are in front of us. The People’s Climate Movement-New York is dedicated to finding a way forward that strengthens our communities, creates greater social and economic equity, and builds a sustainable relationship between our human society and the planet which gives it life.

The world looks up to our city for the latest social change. Actions taking locally have a global impact, New York must continue to lead by example. It is imperative that we urge the City Council to pass strong climate and environmental legislation. Legislation that will not only protect our city, our workers, our economy but the future of our children.

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Follow Those Bills
Last September, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito linked the following measures to the Council’s comprehensive push to address climate change. Here’s where the proposals stand:

Intro. 13
Description: “A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring the base building systems of certain buildings to be operated by individuals with a certificate in building energy efficiency from an approved program.”
Status: Laid over in committee

Intro. 211
Description: “A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to a bus rapid transit plan.”
Status: Laid over in committee

Intro. 271
Description: “A Local Law to amend the New York city charter, the administrative code of the city of New York, the New York city building code, and the New York city mechanical code, in relation to the New York city air pollution control code.”
Status: Laid over in committee

Intro. 295
Description: “A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring certain qualified transportation benefits.”
Status: Enacted

Intro. 378
Description: “A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to reducing greenhouse gases by eighty percent by two thousand fifty.”
Status: Enacted

* * * *

Martyne Aimé is a member of The People’s Climate Movement – New York

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  • therealnewsnetwork

    TRNN interviews Janet Redman (Dir. of Climate Policy Program, IPS) to explain why she suggests the U.S. should cut carbon pollution by two to three times as much, and put a number on the table for 2020 when the climate agreement kicks in. View the full interview here:

  • jennylingpo

    What the City needs to do is crack down on high rise apartment houses in high income areas and force the owners to make them as energy efficient as possible, including insulation, new windows and individual heating controls for each unit. They should also limit the height of new buildings to reduce the impacts on density. These will never happen because REBNY controls the City Council and the Mayor, so all the NYC liberals crying about this issue are full of crap!

    • xoviat

      Taller buildings leads to a smaller climate impact because there is increased urban density. High density is the reason that NY has such a low carbon impact.

      Naturally this will cause significant rent increase for the liberal hipsters living in these apartment houses.

      Yes! Driving those evil liberals out to the suburbs where they will have to drive to work! We’ll show them!

  • native new yorker

    How much will this latest scheme cost NYC homeowners?

  • Bryan Briggs

    We need to do something about the infrastructure problem in this city,as well as the country.
    In the past year,we have had two house explosions in New York…one in Harlem,and one
    recently in the East Village.It’s not just a gas problem,it’s the fact that a lot of these buildings in this city are well over 100 years old & are in desperate need of constant repair. And,the
    city needs to start taking this problem,on a larger scale,very seriously.