Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

NYC Mayor de Blasio Steps Up on Climate Change

Climate

When progressive Democrat Bill de Blasio was elected mayor of New York last year, many were hopeful that he would follow his strong words about addressing climate change with some real action. But there weren't a lot of signs of that during his first year in office, disappointing many environmental activists. Among other things, he had left the directorship of the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability empty. That office was created by the city's previous mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had been a strong advocate for climate action.

Hurricane Sandy drove home to New Yorkers how vulnerable the city is to climate change impacts.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

But now, Inside Climate News reports, that may be changing.

Last week, de Blasio appointed Nilda Mesa, who has worked at the White House and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as leading Columbia University's sustainability program, to be director of a new Office of Sustainability. That office will combine the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability and the Office of Environmental Coordination, which Mesa had headed since September, and will focus on addressing climate impacts.

"I am thrilled to lead the Office of Sustainability as we implement the mayor’s sweeping new policies and work toward an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050,” said Mesa in a statement. "As New Yorkers, we’re all in this together. We breathe the same air, drink from the same water supply and suffer the same impacts of climate change. Let’s leave a legacy for our kids that will make them proud.”

Environmental groups were positive about the announcement.

"She has sterling environmental credentials and the ear of the mayor and his top officials—two extremely valuable assets for success in this position," Eric Goldstein, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's New York City Environment program, told Inside Climate News. "There had been a gap in critical personnel. We're glad it has been filled by a quality candidate."

“We look forward to working with her and the administration on the city’s next comprehensive sustainability plan, and on the larger mission of creating a greener, healthier city for all,"Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, told the New York Capital. The group has previously charged de Blasio with not being aggressive enough on climate issues.

While de Blasio spent much of his first year addressing other issues such as schools, housing and transportation, he took strong environmental stands during the UN Climate Summit and the People's Climate March in his city in September. He made a pledge to cut the city's emissions 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels, making New York the largest city in the world to commit to such an ambitious goal. At that time, he released a plan called One City Built to Last that described what the city would do and what private landlords would be required to do to to become more energy efficient. It laid out a detailed blueprint for retrofitting buildings, cutting energy use and developing clean, sustainable energy sources, as well as creating green jobs.

"Given the ambitious agenda that Mayor de Blasio has laid out and the great leadership he has put in place, it's apparent that he is devoting much-needed attention to NYC's climate and environmental issues," Kizzy Charles-Guzman, policy director of The Nature Conservancy's NYC Program and a former member of the long-term planning agency's staff, told Inside Climate News.

In addition, Inside Climate News reports, the New York City Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists working to analyze the impact of global warming on the region, will be issuing new projections in a month or two.

"Not having someone in leadership didn't stop our work at all," said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a Columbia University climate scientist and co-chair of the panel. "But I'm thrilled all the same that someone is now there to lead, and that that person is [Mesa]."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

New York City Mayor de Blasio Takes On Climate Change

New York's Shared Solar Proposal Invites Millions of Renters to the Solar Revolution

Survey Says Mayors Actively Curbing Climate Change in Their Cities

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Women walk from Santa Monica beach after a social media workout on the sand on May 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Independence Day weekend is a busy time for coastal communities as people flock to the beaches to soak up the sun during the summer holiday. This year is different. Some of the country's most popular beach destinations in Florida and California have decided to close their beaches to stop the surge in coronavirus cases.

Read More Show Less
Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans and others who suffer from PTSD. Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Arash Javanbakht

For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.

Read More Show Less
Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs. Mathias Appel / Flickr

Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs, warns a year-long inquiry into Australia's "most loved animal." The report published by the Parliament of New South Wales (NSW) paints a "stark and depressing snapshot" of koalas in Australia's southeastern state.

Read More Show Less
NASA is advancing tools like this supercomputer model that created this simulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to better understand what will happen to Earth's climate if the land and ocean can no longer absorb nearly half of all climate-warming CO2 emissions. NASA/GSFC

By Jeff Berardelli

For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.

Read More Show Less
A child stands in what is left of his house in Utuado, Puerto Rico, which was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 12, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios. Flickr, CC by 2.0
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
Read More Show Less
President Trump's claim last September that Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama's gulf coast was quickly refuted by employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An independent investigation found that NOAA's chief violated the agency's ethics when he backed Trump's warning and doctored map that used a Sharpie to alter the storm's path, as EcoWatch reported.
Read More Show Less

Trending

African bush elephants in the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in Botswana on Nov. 22, 2016. Michael Jansen / Flickr

More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.

Read More Show Less