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The New York City Council rallied alongside advocates on the steps of City Hall to mark the passage of the Climate Mobilization Act.

New York, NY — The New York City Council today passed legislation to mobilize the city around climate action. The New York City Climate Mobilization Act, which includes 10 bills and resolutions introduced by Council Members Costa Constantinides and Rafael Espinal and Progressive Caucus Members Donovan Richards, Andrew Cohen, and Steve Levin, is the largest single carbon reduction effort that any city, anywhere, has ever put forward. The Progressive Caucus endorsed the package as a part of its 2018-2021 legislative agenda, which includes combating climate change as one of its priorities.

The Climate Mobilization Act will make drastic changes to the energy efficiency of New York City.  It will result in the equivalent of taking more than one million cars off the road by 2030 and create measurable decreases in the nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter that fouls our air. These bills will form the building blocks of a more resilient and sustainable city, while protecting our most vulnerable communities, which are at risk of suffering the gravest consequences in the face of rapid climate change. They will also lead to the creation of thousands of good, middle class jobs that pave the way for a 21st century green economy.

One of these bills, introduced by Council Member Costa Constantinides, would reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of large buildings by 2030. Outdated and inefficient systems waste vast amounts of energy, making large buildings the worst culprits of climate pollution in New York City. Council Member Constantinides’ bill will require the city’s large buildings – those 25,000 square feet or larger – to slash their greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. These new standards will require retrofitting buildings with new energy efficient technology, creating a cleaner city as well as thousands of jobs in renovation and construction.

The package includes the following bills:

Int. 1253 (Building Retrofits): By Council Member Constantinides – This bill would establish the Office of Building Energy Performance as well as greenhouse gas emissions limits for existing buildings. This bill would also expand existing retro-commissioning requirements to certain buildings over 25,000 square feet.

Int. 1252 (PACE Financing): By Council Member Constantinides – This bill would establish a sustainable energy loan program for the purposes of providing certain building owners with funding for the installation of renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements.

Int. 1251 (Building Efficiency Grades): By Council Member Cohen – This bill would update the ranges for energy efficiency grades.

Int. 1318 (Power Plant Phaseout Study) – By Council Member Constantinides – This bill requires the city to conduct a feasibility study on closing the 21 gas-fired power plants within the five boroughs in favor of renewable sources with batteries large enough to store excess energy. This report must include a time frame on how long it might take those batteries to be installed, consult with the various state agencies involved, set a energy storage goal for 2030 along with a roadmap for how the city will meet that target.

Int. 1317 (Large Wind Turbines): By Council Member Constantinides – This bill would clarify DOB’s obligation to include wind energy generation in its toolbox of renewable energy technologies. It would also require the department to develop or support standards and technologies and authorize the installation of large wind energy turbines in appropriate locations.

Int. 1031 (Green Roof Information): By Council Member Espinal – This bill would require the office of alternative energy to post and maintain links on its website to information regarding the installation of green roofs and other resources and materials regarding green roofs.

Int. 1032 (Green Roofs for New Construction): By Council Member Espinal – This bill would require that the rooftops of buildings or structures in occupancy groups B, I-4, M, or S-2, as defined in section BC 302 of the New York city building code, be covered in plants (known as “green roofs”), solar panels, small wind turbines or a combination of all three. This legislation promotes energy efficient building practices, as green roofs filter pollutants and add agricultural space, solar roofs encourage renewable energy generation and reduce air pollution and small wind turbines generate heat and electric power in an environmentally conscious manner.

Int. 276-A (Green Roofs on Smaller Buildings): By Council Member Richards – This bill would adjust the green roof requirements established by Int. No. 1032-A for buildings 5 stories or less. It would also require HPD to study the potential impact of compliance with the green roof requirements on the affordability of certain buildings. Finally, this bill would provide for adjusting the requirements of Int. No. 1032-A for certain buildings (e.g. buildings receiving certain tax exemptions or owned by HPD) for a period of 5 years.

Res. 66 (Green Roof Tax Abatement): By Council Member Levin – Resolution calling upon the State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, legislation that would increase the real property tax abatement for the installation of a green roof to $15 per square foot

Res. 845 (Williams Pipeline Opposition): By Council Member Constantinides – Resolution calling upon the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to deny the Water Quality Certification permit for the construction of the Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline through New York Harbor.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in a special report, released in October of last year, that without government action, the planet could see an increase in extreme weather events, losses in crops and livestock, and worsening poverty as early as 2040. The Trump administration’s dismissal of climate science leaves cities to address the issue on their own. As the need to combat climate change becomes increasingly urgent, the Climate Mobilization Act is a critical step that could pave the way for necessary policy change in other cities across the country and worldwide.

“The Climate Mobilization Act is a downpayment on the future of New York City — one that ensures we lead the way in the ever-growing fight against climate change,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Today, we sent that message to the world by enacting the boldest mandate to reduce carbon emissions, tackling one of the biggest drivers of climate change. This represents over two years of engagement with the various communities, industries and everyday New Yorkers impacted by climate change. We are answering the call for bold action we’ve heard from the IPCC, Donald Trump’s own National Climate Assessment, and the City’s own panel on climate change. Such a historic day would not be possible without the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson, the support of my colleagues in the New York City Council, or the advocacy of dedicated New Yorkers who want to ensure our home is here another 400 years.”

“I am proud to be a co-sponsor of Introduction 1253 as it sets ambitious, comprehensive standards on New York City’s worst polluters, old buildings. By modernizing buildings to raise efficiency standards we will dramatically cut pollution long term,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “Retrofitting for efficiency and sustainability will reduce our City’s carbon footprint and create thousands of much-needed, good paying jobs. Thank you to Council Member Costa Constantinides for his dedication and work in the effort to get this bill and entire package passed.”   

“The planet is dying. Without bold action we will leave our children the most inhospitable planet in human history. Passing this historic legislation is therefore the most progressive action we can take to solve what is, at rock bottom, a human rights issue,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Vice-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “I am proud to stand with Council Member Constantinides, who deserves immense praise for leading this fight, and Speaker Johnson for supporting this bold action. New York City is once again showing the country how to lead.”

“Twelve years: that’s how long we have to reverse our actions or face the real impact of climate change. I am proud to support Intro 1523 and related legislation to aggressively address climate change by evaluating our city’s building emissions. Through the Climate Mobilization Act, New York City is playing a historic role to cut greenhouse gas emissions and pollution across the five boroughs,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Vice-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “I thank Council Member Constantinides and my colleagues for their leadership on this groundbreaking environmental policy.”

“With so many people and cars in NYC, it can be hard to believe that our buildings are the number one contributor of harmful emissions. It is crucial that we create a healthier and more sustainable environment for the next generation of New Yorkers before it is too late. I believe that the City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection led by Council Member Constantinides has presented a package of bills today that aim to do just that! By creating an energy efficiency grading system for buildings throughout the city we are setting clear 21st century standards that will hopefully go a long way in combating our current climate dangers. I am happy to have contributed to this package of legislation with my bill Intro 1251, which focuses on the grading standards and requirements for this system. I hope this legislation will encourage building owners to make the necessary upgrades to reduce the amount of negative impacts that these large buildings are having on our environment,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, Member of the Progressive Caucus.

“We must remain vigilant in combating climate change and protecting our environment. That’s why I’m proud to support a Green New Deal for New York City that will help transition our city’s economy toward clean renewable energy and limit harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Member of the Progressive Caucus.

“The New York City Council is taking bold steps to address our climate crisis, and I was proud to vote in favor of the Climate Mobilization Act, a package of 10 bills that will address the long term sustainability and energy efficiency of our city,” said Council Member Brad Lander, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “I’m also thrilled the Council passed my legislation with Council Member Margaret Chin to include a 5-cent fee on paper bags that will compliment New York State’s ban on plastic bags and serve to meaningfully reduce bag waste in NYC. These bills, passed just in time for Earth Day, show that New York City understands the dire consequences for inaction on climate. I want to thank Speaker Corey Johnson for his strong support of these bills and making New York City a leader on climate issues, all the bill sponsors, my City Council Colleagues, and all the advocates who have pushed for meaningful change for a long time.”  

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