New York City has voted in favor of its own version of the Green New Deal to thunderous applause last week in the City Council Chambers in Manhattan.
Spearheading the passage of the Climate Mobilization Act ahead of Earth Day was Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria).
“The Climate Mobilization Act is a downpayment on the future of New York City — one that ensures we lead the way in the ever-growing fight against climate change,” said Constantinides, chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Today, we sent that message to the world by enacting the boldest mandate to reduce carbon emissions, tackling one of the biggest drivers of climate change.”
The CMA mandates that large buildings will collectively reduce their carbon footprint by 40 percent by 2030, according to Constantinides’ office.
Buildings that are considered to be approximately 25,000-square-feet or larger are estimated to make up only two percent of the one million structures throughout the city, but emit 30 percent of the greenhouse gases annually, according to Constantinides’ office. To ensure that buildings of all sizes hit their goals an Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance will be established within the Department of Buildings to work with owners.
“This represents over two years of engagement with the various communities, industries and everyday New Yorkers impacted by climate change. We are answering the call for bold action we’ve heard from the IPCC, Donald Trump’s own National Climate Assessment, and the City’s own panel on climate change,” said Constantinides. “Such a historic day would not be possible without the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson, the support of my colleagues in the New York City Council, or the advocacy of dedicated New Yorkers who want to ensure our home is here another 400 years.”
One of the people to be impacted by the law is President Donald Trump, a firm climate change denier who mocked U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Jackson Heights) when her Green New Deal was defeated earlier this year. His 664-feet sky high Trump Tower would be one of the buildings that would have to transform or face penalties once the new law is signed.
Mayor Bill de Blasio intends on signing the act into law and plans to fine landlords $1 million or more if they do not comply.
“Words cannot describe how proud I am of the grassroots organizers & officials (including Queens’ own @Costa4NY!) behind this momentous passage by the @NYCCouncil. (Upgrading our buildings to be cleaner and healthier creates a ton of dignified jobs, too.),” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez on April 18.
Three of the resolutions within the act are from Constantinides and would make way for low-cost financing initiatives to help with clean energy upgrades, cut through the red tape for large wind turbines in New York City, and will require 21 of the gas-powered power plants within the five boroughs to be closed for renewable energy sources by 2021, according to Constantinides’ office.
The other resolutions within the CMA are from Council members Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), Rafael Espinal (D-Brooklyn), Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan).
Their resolutions would promote the growth of green roofs on buildings five stories or smaller, encourage green roof installation on large buildings, require transparency with the Office of Alternative Energy, increase tax abatements for installing a green roof to $15-per-square-foot and call on the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation to block the Williams Pipeline, respectively.
The Williams Pipeline, also known as the Northeast Supply Enhancement Pipeline, would frack methane from Pennsylvania across the lower bay of New York’s harbor, according to 350brooklyn.org, a grassroots organization working to reverse climate change.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 30-times worse than carbon dioxide, according to ScienceDaily.com.
If the approximately $1 billion-pipeline were to be constructed, environmental groups like 350brooklyn believe that toxic chemicals would be dug up from the seabed and harm both human and marine life.
The proposed 23-mile pipeline is from Williams Transco, an energy firm based in Oklahoma that has had 10 overall fires and explosions in previous ventures, according to the Surfrider Foundation, a New York City group dedicated to protecting coastlines.
“After increasingly dire warnings about the harm we are doing to the planet, climate change is now part of the national conversation,” said Espinal. “But raising awareness about the environmental consequences will have a limited impact unless we back it up with action. The Climate Mobilization Act is the most ambitious plan in the country to seize control of our climate destiny and set a course toward a more sustainable future for our city.”