Statement of Carlos Castell Croke
New York League of Conservation Voters
New York City Council Environmental Protection Hearing February 25th, 2020
Good morning. My name is Carlos Castell Croke, and I am a representative from the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV). NYLCV represents over 30,000 members in New York City and we are committed to advancing a sustainability agenda that will make our people, our neighborhoods, and our economy healthier and more resilient. I would like to thank Chair Constantinides along with city council members Levin, Menchaca, Ulrich, and Yeger for the opportunity to testify before the Committee on Environmental Protection.
New York City has set forth aggressive and groundbreaking climate goals including an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and zero waste to landfills by 2030. Achieving these goals is essential in order to do our part to combat climate change. The State’s recent adoption of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) also requires us to do more and continue our climate leadership, especially at this time when Washington is moving backward.
To help reach these goals, NYLCV supports Intro 1720, which would require each city agency and affiliated governmental organization to develop a climate emission plan on an annual basis. The goals that we have set for ourselves are monumental, to such an extent that it can be difficult to imagine, let alone execute, each of the thousands of steps we will have to take along the way. In fact, New York City has struggled to make progress, and we are not currently on track to meet most of the climate-related goals that are laid out in statute. Requiring city agencies and affiliated governmental organizations to develop individual climate plans that are in keeping with the City’s broader plans should help to get the City back on track by focusing on those small steps that add up to real forward movement. Furthermore, City agencies should be an example for the rest of the city, setting out best practices that can then be adopted by the private sector and other local, state, and federal government entities.
Similarly, Intro 270 seeks to embed the City’s climate goals in its budget process by requiring each unit of appropriation in the budget to account for its carbon emissions, offsets, mitigation, and net impact. NYLCV supports the goal of aligning the City’s budget with its climate goals and thinking more carefully about the carbon impact of various types of agency spending. However, calculating the carbon impact of each unit of appropriation in the budget would be a herculean task, in all likelihood requiring the addition of many new staff at the Office of Management and Budget who are trained in carbon accounting. The temptation to cut corners in producing this analysis would be very strong, and sloppy carbon accounting is less useful to policymakers and the public than none at all.
Intro 270 would be more likely to be effective if it required carbon accounting at the agency level, with the impact of the entire City budget aggregated from the agency-level emissions, offsets, mitigations, and net impacts.
In order to reach the City’s 80×50 and Zero Waste goals, we must have a better understanding of the progress we are making – or not making – so that we can learn from mistakes, replicate best practices, and readjust strategy as we go. Thank you for holding this hearing and taking seriously the details of how New York City achieves its climate goals.