NYLCV Releases 2024 New York City Agenda

By Peter Aronson

The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) believes 2024 is a crucial year in New York City’s fight against climate change.

We believe it is time for the city to put its fiscal might behind the many environmental policies it has advocated for over the years.

We believe it is time for Mayor Adams and the City Council to say the buck stops here, that the city, finally, will pass and implement a city budget that will do all that is necessary to thwart what we all know is coming: the increasing severity of climate change that will impact us all.

That is why NYLCV and the NYLCV Education Fund have put out an ambitious policy agenda for the city in 2024, which was released last Thursday, the same day as the League held its annual NYC City Council Legislative Breakfast.

“To achieve our ambitious climate goals, New York City needs to get stuff done when it comes to fighting climate change and protecting our environment. Our policy agenda calls for actions that will improve public health and reduce harms, especially in disadvantaged communities,” said NYLCV President Julie Tighe in the League’s press release. “When it comes to investing in green jobs, parks and open spaces, resilient infrastructure, decarbonizing the transportation sector, and reducing overall emissions, we will fight to ensure that environmental justice is integrated into every aspect of climate policy.”

Addressing City Council Members, their staff, and fellow advocates at the Legislative Breakfast, NYLCV’s Deputy Director for NYC Policy, Alia Soomro, spoke about recent environmental wins, including several zero waste measures passed by  the Council  last year, but when discussing the League’s 2024 agenda, she emphasized that “much more needs to be done.”

Among our NYC priorities for 2024, we urge the city to properly fund and implement the following agencies and programs: the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the Zero Waste Act, the NYC Streets Plan, an all-electrified city bus system including all-electric school buses by 2035, Local Law 97,  and environmental justice initiatives. 

The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation is chronically underfunded and understaffed. With parks and green spaces comprising 14% of the city’s land, we think it is long overdue that the city allocate 1% of the city’s budget to this agency. In addition, the city must create an Urban Forest Plan that equitably expands the city’s tree canopy from the current 22 percent to 30 percent coverage by 2035. In total, these changes would allow the city to better combat extreme heat, absorb more storm water and provide cleaner air for New Yorkers and native wildlife.

The city took a major step forward when it passed the Zero Waste Act in 2023, committing the city to zero waste by 2030. But now the city must follow through and make sure there are programs and funding in place to achieve this goal through enhanced citywide recycling, composting and waste removal programs.

The transportation sector, at almost 30 percent, is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in New York State, and the city needs to play a vital role in reducing these pollutants. To that end, we want to see the city implement the NYC Streets Plan, by rolling out more protected bus and bike lanes with a goal of improving pedestrian and cyclist safety. The city also must enact a comprehensive plan to reimagining NYC street space. As part of lowering emissions from vehicles, the city must fund a full electrification of all city and public school buses, so this is accomplished by 2035.

We want to see implementation of the city’s Local Law 97, the nation’s groundbreaking building-emissions law. Buildings are the largest greenhouse gas emitters in New York State and account for approximately two-thirds of all emissions in the city. Local Law 97, passed by the City Council in 2019, requires most buildings with more than 25,000 square feet (and other buildings as well) to meet new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions starting this year, with stricter limits imposed in 2030. We urge the city to quickly and effectively implement all aspects of this law, including prioritizing equitable green jobs training programs. 

The city must also prioritize removing all lead pipes in the city, so we can be sure New Yorkers are drinking safe water, and making necessary upgrades and improvements at the City’s NYCHA housing complexes. NYCHA has long been neglected due to underfunding and issues relating to lack of heating and hot water and mold and lead paint removal must be addressed.

We have to remember that underfunding in the areas mentioned above impacts underserved communities disproportionately. As we move forward, the city must emphasize that funds are necessary to repair the damage done to these marginalized communities, to make sure it is reversed going forward, and to ensure that green job opportunities created by these projects are openly available to individuals living within those communities. The principles of equity and environmental justice require this.

Our 2024 New York City Policy Agenda lays out our priorities in full, with many more details than we can provide here. 

We look forward to working with Mayor Adams and the entire City Council in making these goals are met.

03.18.24 // AUTHOR: admin //