(HUFFPOST)April 12, 2019
New York City is gearing up to enact its own version of the Green New Deal with a suite of bills that aim to dramatically slash the city’s planet-warming emissions, create thousands of blue-collar jobs and set the stage for future state and federal climate policies.
The City Council on Thursday plans to announce the Climate Mobilization Act, a package that includes six pieces of legislation grouped in an omnibus bill to be voted on by Earth Day, April 22. It’s the first of what’s expected to be at least two waves of climate-focused legislation this year.
“This is about saving New York City,” Councilman Costa Constantinides, the Queens Democrat leading the effort, said in an interview at his office in his native Astoria, a densely populated immigrant neighborhood choked by car and power plant pollution and bordered by water on two sides. “This is saving the city as we know it.”
The heart of the legislation is a measure requiring buildings of over 25,000 square feet ― the biggest source of carbon pollution in the city ― to install new windows, insulation and other retrofits to become more energy efficient. Starting in 2024, the legislation orders landlords to slash emissions 40% by 2030, and double the cuts by 2050.
If passed, the bill would likely be the largest single legislative mandate to cut climate pollution by any city in the world. The legislation, by one estimate, would create a demand for more than 3,600 jobs construction jobs per year and another 4,400 jobs in maintenance, services and operations, fueled by the sheer magnitude of the investment required to meet the emissions goals.
The full Climate Mobilization Act package goes further. One bill orders the city to complete a study over the next two years on the feasibility of closing all 24 oil- and gas-burning power plants in city limits and replacing them with renewables and batteries. Another establishes a renewable energy loan program. Two more require certain buildings to cover roofs with plants, solar panels, small wind turbines or a mix of the three. The last in this initial bunch tweaks the city’s building code to make it easier to build wind turbines.