In his 2020 State of the City address, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio emphasized climate change as a top priority for his administration. Introducing a number of initiatives to address the crisis, Mayor de Blasio said: “We have to show by our own actions what can change and must change, and that we will prove in our time these changes can be made, and we will save this earth for our children and grandchildren.” Read NYLCV President Julie Tighe’s response to the Mayor’s proposals, which would shape a path toward carbon neutrality for the city.
Wind energy development will be crucial to fight climate change and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. In particular, offshore wind will play a key role in helping New York achieve the clean energy goals set by the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act, which requires the state’s energy grid to run on 100% clean power by 2040.
Offshore wind farms approved in 2019 are expected to produce 1,700 MW of electricity, enough to make New York State the largest source of offshore wind power in the country. A plan between New York State and Empire Wind is underway to equip the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park as a hub for staging, installing, and operating offshore wind turbines. This would create 500 green jobs and generate wind power that would reduce carbon emissions equal to taking 200,000 cars off the road.
Solar power is a clean energy source that does not pollute the air, and will help reduce our reliance on gas, oil, and coal. New York City plans to generate 1,000 MW of solar power by 2030, and is launching a new program to defray the upfront costs of installing solar panels, letting homeowners use the savings on their energy bills to pay for the equipment over a period of years.
If 50,000 solar panels are installed on one-to-four family homes in the city, it would double the amount of solar power produced, and would help building owners move away from using fossil fuels to generate heat and hot water for tenants.
The Mayor is also planning to bring hydropower to NYC as part of a plan to run City government operations on 100 percent renewable energy. The Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) is a planned transmission cable connecting hydro energy sources to residents in the downstate region. This project will reduce New York’s dependence on fossil fuels and provide a projected 1,000 MW of renewable energy. Planned energy converter stations in Montreal and New York City will process and transmit the energy through a long-distance cable. At the Hydro-Québec plant, a new station will be built to convert the electricity into a transmittable form that can travel through the cable. In Queens, NY, another converter station will be built to access the transmitted electricity and ConEd will disperse the energy through its electric grid.
Single-use plastic bottles
According to the NYC Department of Sanitation, New Yorkers threw away more than 742 million single-use plastic bottles last year—about 21 million pounds. Expanding on past initiatives to reduce single-use plastic, the City will stop purchasing unnecessary single-use plastic bottles and restrict their sale on City-owned property. City agencies will be required to have a plan to reduce unnecessary plastic bottle use by June 30, 2020, and eliminate all use and purchase by January 1, 2021.
Electric vehicles (EVs) produce less emissions than gas-powered cars, which cause climate change, smog, illness, and damage to the environment. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, if 60 percent of cars on the road were EVs, carbon emissions would be reduced by over 30%. That is the same as taking 82.5 million gas-powered cars off the road. New York City plans to quickly convert or replace thousands of city-owned cars, trucks, and buses to run on electric power. By 2025, 4,000 vehicles will be replaced or converted to electric; by 2040, the entire City fleet, including garbage trucks, ferries, ambulances, and police cruisers, should be fully electric. This year, the first electric school buses will be in operation.