On the eve of the People’s Climate March, the de Blasio administration released a detailed plan to reduce New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2050. The city has already reduced its GHG levels by 19 percent, but this next round of emissions cuts, warned the Mayor, would be far more difficult.
The reason? Three-quarters of the city’s emissions come from powering its buildings. Slashing energy use across the five boroughs, and moving toward zero reliance on fossil fuels, must now be the goal, says the City.
We argued that the Mayor’s plan was historic, both because it envisions a New York City some day powered 100 percent by renewable energy, and also, because it ties energy efficiency and clean energy to a social goal– the maintenance of affordable housing.
While the de Blasio plan was hailed by many environmental groups, there are clearly others who believe that the climate crisis is already so urgent that the City must move more aggressively now.
One of them is Eric, a New York City native, who we met at the People’s Climate March. “We need to tell the truth,” Eric argued, that an 80 percent reduction of 2005 levels is simply “not adequate.”
We asked Eric if it was “realistic” to expect that New York City could cut emissions faster in the next thirty-six years. He drew a sharp distinction between what is realistic in the word of politics, and what is required in the real world, a world in which we will all have to survive.
“We need to draw down huge amounts of pollution that’s in the atmosphere already,” Eric pointed out.
“We have the technology to do what we need to do but we have to ask for what we actually want now. We’ve been asking for these same targets for decades, and we know they’re no longer accurate. A realistic strategy is one that has the possibility of working in the real world and of solving the problem in reality,” he continued.
“If our strategy only has the possibility of succeeding politically, but still won’t solve the ecological problem, that is an unrealistic strategy. We have to start from the science- what the science demands. The politics could potentially adjust, but physics does not adjust to politics. So we have to ask for what’s necessary,” Eric concluded.
What Do You Think?
How do you view the climate crisis, and what New York City should do?
Do you think that the City’s 80 percent goal falls short of what is actually necessary to avert the worst effects of climate change?
How aggressive should local government be in compelling building owners -and tenants- to cut energy use and switch to renewable sources of energy?
What will be most effective in pushing New York City in the right direction? Government regulation, or incentives? Or a combination of both?
We want to hear what you think about these important and complex questions. Please take a moment to comment, and we will report on your responses.
Photo credit: Kate Fermoile