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Overview

In April 2019, Mayor de Blasio announced New York City’s Green New Deal, an ambitious $14 billion plan to attack global warming. Laid out in “OneNYC 2050: Building a Strong and Fair City,” the Green New Deal policies address the existential threats posed by climate change, economic insecurity, inequity, and rising global intolerance. In combination with actions taken prior to this administration, New York City will reach a total emissions reduction of 40% from a 2005 baseline by 2030.

The New York City’s Green New Deal:

  1. Committing to carbon neutrality by 2050, and 100% clean energy. The City will pursue steep cuts in greenhouse gas emission from buildings and source 100% clean electricity. This will generate thousands of green jobs retrofitting buildings and expanding renewable energy. 
  2. Requiring buildings to cut their emissions. New York City is the first in the world to require all large existing buildings (> 25,000 square feet) to make efficiency upgrades that lower their energy use and emissions, or face penalties starting from 2024.
  3. Banning new inefficient glass-walled buildings. The city will no longer allow all-glass facades in new buildings unless they meet strict performance standards. Though it doesn’t necessarily mean glass-wrapped structures will be a thing of the past, they have to be made more energy efficient (e.g. American Cooper Building). 
  4. Hydro-powered city government. The City will pursue 100% carbon-free electricity supply for government operations. As of today, more than 70% of the power generated in New York is clean hydropower. 
  5. Mandatory organics recycling. The City will make organics collection (e.g. food scraps and yard waste) mandatory citywide, expanding the country’s largest organics management program. This includes curbside pickup, drop-off sites, and support for community compositing opportunities.
  6. Reducing waste and carbon-intensive consumption. The City will end unnecessary purchases of single-use plastic, phase out the purchase of processed meat, reduce the purchase of beef by 50%, and commit to a carbon neutral City fleet by 2040.
  7. Aligning with U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. With OneNYC, New York City was the first city to map our local strategy to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and to submit a Voluntary Local Review to the United Nations. The Voluntary Local Review monitors New York’s advancement toward the goals, identifies areas where we can learn from others, and addresses remaining challenges.

As of 2017, nearly three-quarters of all citywide emissions came from buildings. Improving their energy efficiency would significantly reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the Climate Mobilization Act which sets the greenhouse gas emissions limits on buildings with the goal of reducing emissions 40% by 2030, is considered the main plank of NYC’s Green New Deal. It consists of five climate laws:

  1. Local Law 97 is the centerpiece of the Climate Mobilization Act, which requires all buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to meet ambitious carbon reduction targets.
  2. According to Local Law 92 and Local Law 94, all new buildings and buildings undergoing major roof renovations are required to be covered with solar panels, green roofs, or some combination of the two. The laws also require all buildings to reduce urban heat island.
  3. Local Law 95 amends the ranges for how the energy efficiency grades are calculated as required by Local Law 33 of 2018.
  4. Local Law 96 establishes long-term, low-interest Property-Assessed Clean Energy financing to upgrade building energy and water efficiency.

Progress

New York City Climate Law Tracker monitors New York City’s progress in implementing the Climate Mobilization Act. In December 2019, the climate advisory board was appointed to provide advice and recommendations to reduce emissions from buildings. 

As of March 2021, however, the carbon trading study–a study focused on the feasibility of a citywide trading scheme for greenhouse gas emissions from buildings–was overdue. Carbon trading is a method that incentivizes emission reduction by setting an emission target and allowing building owners to sell or purchase credits based on their emission levels. If implemented, the New York City’s carbon trading program will be the first-of-its-kind in the U.S. to provide building owners with alternative options to comply with Local Law 97 and help meet the City’s goal to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

 

Sources:

  1. Action on Global Warming: NYC’s Green New Deal
  2. The New York Times: De Blasio’s ‘Ban’ on Glass and Steel Skyscrapers Isn’t a Ban at All
  3. NY Power Authority: Generation Overview
  4. New York City Council: Climate Mobilization Act
  5. The Climate Advisory Board: First Meeting
  6. Carbon Trading Study

 

 

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