To the editor:
The largest single carbon-reduction bill citywide is coming to the New York city council in time for Earth Day. And has New Yorkers, we should proudly support it, even though it, alone, is nowhere near the scale needed to appropriately address the solution.
Luckily, this bill is part of a larger climate mobilization bill that starts to chip away at the challenge.
Intro 1253, introduced by Councilman Costa Constantinides with Speaker Corey Johnson’s and Councilman Andrew Cohen’s support, addresses the moral crisis of our time: climate change and inequality.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged that New York City would stay in the Paris Accords, despite President Trump’s attempt to pull the United States out. Intro 1253 constitutes the first step in accomplishing the goal of significant emissions reductions. Today, energy use by buildings account for 70 percent of New York City’s emissions.
The largest buildings — those more than 25,000 square feet — account for half of those emissions. By fully targeting just 50,000 of the more than a million buildings here, New York City could cut its emissions by 30 percent.
The bill calls for a 40 percent reduction in energy use by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050 — all this for 30 percent of the city’s emissions. The gap here — the other 70 percent of the city’s emissions must be tackled fast, leveraging the same excitement and momentum as 1253 has generated.
Here’s how it addresses inequality: The retrofit, architecture, design, construction, repair, electric, plumbing and HVAC work required in order to bring these buildings into compliance is work that cannot be outsourced, it cannot be computerized.
The bill could generate 4,000 jobs a year for the foreseeable future.
The bill also sensitively protects affordable housing by not setting standards on rent-regulated housing that would cause rent hikes.
The buildings the bill would affect would end up saving money because of lower operating costs, yielding a strong return on investment on the work for owners. The bill is just the first step in building momentum toward a healthy and sustainable city.
The world needs New York City to be a leader on this. It reduces global warming emissions, makes our air quality better, creates good green jobs, and improves our buildings.
Let’s get it passed!
The author is a leader with the Climate Reality Project and a board member of Riverdale Nature Preservancy.