After the final absentee ballot count concluded earlier this month, Eric Adams narrowly defeated Kathryn Garcia in the New York City Democratic primary—now, he is likely to become New York City’s next Mayor. Climate change and localized environmental issues will intensify across the course of Adams’ term, though there is a great opportunity to offer an aggressive challenge. Adams says New York City should globally lead by example in the face of climate adversity, but how exactly does he plan on achieving this?
Throughout his campaign, the Brooklyn Borough President and former New York Police Department captain expressed his interest in turning New York City into a wind power hub, promoting plant-based options across City agencies, and funneling resources to promote a green energy economy. In his 17-step plan, titled “A Greener City, A Brighter Future,” Adams identifies ways to combat our intensifying coastal conditions and greenhouse gases emissions, ushered first by projects across our municipal governments, accompanied by City capital investments in greenspaces, recycling, transportation, and solar energy.
We interviewed some of the Mayoral candidates for our “A Greener City Hall?” video and asked them questions about environmental issues including climate change, parks, clean transportation, and reducing waste. Adams’ full interview is also available here.
Adams’ suggestions to mitigate climate damage call for the transformation of the energy, transportation, and food sectors. In a survey submitted to the Waterfront Alliance, Adams advocated for public transparency in these sectors. Adams’ Sandy Recovery Task Force held the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency accountable to create a live portal, updating communities on the “when and where” of recovery projects, and cites his Brooklyn model as one to build upon citywide.
Adams promises that he will combat greenhouse gas emissions on a scale to mirror their attack on our planet. He plans to reduce meat consumption in the city, particularly with government-supplied food. Adams, who is also a vegan, will favor plant-forward options and local food and urban agriculture. For energy, Adams plans to update our infrastructure through the lenses of both environment and economy. His goals will retrofit current wastewater treatment plants, City buildings, bus, and rail yards to generate green energy and be fitted with solar panels. Adams also supports shifting away from natural gas and eliminating peaker plants, which serve the city during high energy demand, with investments in battery storage.
In addition to these laudable goals, Adams should continue the commitment of reducing greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, leveraging support for Local Law 97 in the process. Buildings contribute upwards of two-thirds of city emission levels, so implementing Local Law 97 in a way that is smart, efficient, and effective is critical.
Adams champions investments in our most vulnerable communities. To expedite the electric bus rollout, he would prioritize more impacted areas like East New York and Brownsville. NYLCV hopes school buses can be included in these goals, which have disproportionate effects on children and people of color. In these same transit deserts, striping more bus and bike lanes can build a more interconnected city.
On the waterfront, he has suggested investing in hard and soft infrastructure to boost our coastline protection—according to Adams, one out of ten New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments is located in a flood zone, demonstrating our need to rebuild parkland and green infrastructure in these areas. Resiliency projects should be invested in especially in outer boroughs he claims. Millions of New Yorkers, especially people of color in lower-income communities, also lack fair access to mass transit and subways. Adams believes investing in the Open Streets program can benefit underserved spaces and communities. Reimagining our streets for micromobility can be encouraged by subsidizing bike shares like CitiBike, he says, and pedestrianizing more of the city can help improve local air quality and safety. He hopes to ensure all New Yorkers can access a park within a ten to fifteen-minute walk from their homes.
Finally, Adams plans on using NYCHA complexes to double business and residential recycling rates over the next five years. At NYLCV, we successfully fought to restore the budget cuts, leading to a $30.5 million restitution for a curbside composting pilot this October, which we still hope can expand to a citywide program. Adams supports organics collection as well and has proposed to allow private processors contracts to accelerate the project citywide.
NYLCV is particularly excited to have a mayor who has committed to giving a “percent for parks.” This year’s Parks record budget of $618 million still is less than one percent of the City budget In his work to support greenspaces, we encourage Adams to acknowledge the significance of heat vulnerability and the tree canopy. Oftentimes, fewer tree canopy-covered areas suffer from heat-related illness and poorer air quality and tend to be in communities discriminated against.
Eric Adams has offered a long list of solutions to the climate crisis. If he wins as expected in the general election, we will be thrilled to work with a Mayor who makes fighting climate change a priority. New York City must be a leader in this fight, and Eric Adams has made significant commitments throughout his campaign to show that he is prepared to get us there.