Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

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

Pie Ranch in San Mateo, California, is a highly diverse farm that has both organic and food justice certification. Katie Greaney

By Elizabeth Henderson

Farmworkers, farmers and their organizations around the country have been singing the same tune for years on the urgent need for immigration reform. That harmony turns to discord as soon as you get down to details on how to get it done, what to include and what compromises you are willing to make. Case in point: the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which passed in the House of Representatives on Dec. 11, 2019, by a vote of 260-165. The Senate received the bill the next day and referred it to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains. Two hundred and fifty agriculture and labor groups signed on to the United Farm Workers' (UFW) call for support for H.R. 5038. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez rejoiced:

Read More Show Less
A woman walks to her train in Grand Central Terminal as New York City attempts to slow down the spread of coronavirus through social distancing on March 27. John Lamparski / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

A council representing more than 800,000 doctors across the U.S. signed a letter Friday imploring President Donald Trump to reverse his call for businesses to reopen by April 12, warning that the president's flouting of the guidance of public health experts could jeopardize the health of millions of Americans and throw hospitals into even more chaos as they fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
polaristest / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

Over six gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of wine. "Irrigation, sprays, and frost protection all [used in winemaking] require a lot of water," explained winemaker and sommelier Keith Wallace, who's also a professor and the founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, the largest independent wine school in the U.S. And water waste is just the start of the climate-ruining inefficiencies commonplace in the wine industry. Sustainably speaking, climate change could be problematic for your favorite glass of wine.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Spinach is a true nutritional powerhouse, as it's rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Jeff Turrentine

From day to day, our public health infrastructure — the people and systems we've put in place to keep populations, as opposed to individuals, healthy — largely goes unnoticed. That's because when it's working well, its success takes the form of utter normalcy.

Read More Show Less