'A New Day in New York': City Council Passes Visionary Climate Bill
By Eoin Higgins
The New York City Council passed the world's "largest single carbon reduction effort that any city, anywhere, has ever put forward" on Thursday afternoon, marking a major milestone in the fight against the climate crisis.
The Climate Mobilization Act contains 10 provisions for a greener New York.
"It's a new day," tweeted Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
It’s a new day in New York City. Climate change is an existential threat and we must rise to the occasion. The… https://t.co/Ojzc7kGe2U— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson)1555602309.0
Chief among the bill's provisions were regulations that directly affect city buildings.
The legislation packages together 10 separate bills and resolutions, and calls in its centerpiece bill for a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from city buildings. That level of reduction, and the associated costs of such a move, led real estate interests in New York to oppose the bill, which is known as Intro 1253 in the City Council.
Those efforts were unsuccessful, as the measure passed by a vote of 45-2.
Opponents of the legislation claimed it could have an adverse affect on the city's economy and lead to a drying up of jobs.
But, as HuffPost reported, that doom and gloom future is unlikely:
The new rules would create demand for more than 3,600 construction jobs per year, by one estimate, and another 4,400 jobs in maintenance, services and operations, fueled by the sheer magnitude of the investment required to meet the emissions goals.
According to The New York Times, buildings account for 67 percent of the city's emissions.
"We are answering the call for bold action we've heard from the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], Donald Trump's own National Climate Assessment, and the City's own panel on climate change," said Council Member Costa Constantinides, the chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection and the lead sponsor of Intro 1253.
Honored to see the #ClimateMobilizationAct pass in @NYCCouncil this afternoon. Thanks to @NYCSpeakerCoJo, amazing c… https://t.co/pjV47FXe5D— Costa Constantinides (@Costa Constantinides)1555617886.0
The act is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who may be eying a run at the presidency in 2020.
"The bills will be the largest single reduction effort that any city has put forward," said City Councilman Keith Powers.
Today, @NYCCouncil voted on the most ambitious plan by any city to address climate change. The bills will be the… https://t.co/BFvXfueXhF— Keith Powers (@Keith Powers)1555615218.0
Activist groups hailed the move.
"This bold package of bills [serves] as a vivid reminder that communities at the front lines of the climate crisis are already, and must continue to be, at the forefront of solutions," said Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, the North American director for 350.org, in a statement. "New York is shaping up to be a model for real climate leadership for the rest of the country and world."
New York's move comes as the Green New Deal is gaining in popularity across the U.S. — and in Canada — and as Extinction Rebellion protesters in the U.K. are leading a week of aggressive civil disobedience against a "life-denying system."
"A climate justice movement is rising," said Rachel Rivera, a member of the activist group New York Communities for Change. "It's the beginning of a Green New Deal and it fills me with hope for our planet."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.