Welcome to 'The Big Green Apple'

Get used to it: New York’s new moniker. It came up on Tuesday during an announcement of the city’s carbon-emissions benchmarks for charting the progress of the whole NYC 2030-PlaNYC thing. (The phrase has been around for a while, though.)

Some interesting findings:

  • 79 percent of emissions come from buildings;
  • New Yorkers produce less than a third of the pollution that U.S. residents do on a per capita basis;
  • city government emissions have leveled out over the past five years.
  • Press release after the jump.

    Matthew Schuerman


    Reducing Carbon Emissions Will Be a Top Priority for Next 1,000 Days

    Mayor and Partnership for New York City Also Announce Climate Summit to be Held in New York City this May with Mayors from Around the World

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today released the first comprehensive inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City’s history and announced that New York will host mayors from large cities around the world at a C40 Large Cities Climate Summit in May. The Mayor was joined by City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn; Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding, Dan Doctoroff; New York Academy of Sciences President, Ellis Rubinstein; ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability, USA Director Northeast Regional Capacity Center, Kim Lundgren; Partnership for New York City President, Kathryn Wylde; Chairman of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, James F. Gennaro, and New York City Global Partners Acting President, Marjorie Tiven, to release the report and announce the summit during a day-long meeting on “Climate Change in New York.” The event was co-sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

    “New York has always been a leader in forward thinking public policies, and by undertaking the most comprehensive, detailed inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in US history, and establishing a very clear target for reductions, we will lead by example in fighting global warming. We look forward to discussing these issues with mayors from around the world here next month,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “You can no longer deny the science and bury your head in the sand – climate change is real, and by looking at where and how we are contributing to that problem, we can identify how to reduce our emissions and create a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

    “Rising greenhouse gas emissions are a global problem, but we all need to act locally to find solutions,” said Speaker Quinn. “Working closely with the administration, and with the leadership of Environmental Protection Committee Chair James Genarro, the Council has taken a number of steps to reduce emissions, improve our environment, and make our city greener overall. This inventory will help us build on these efforts, and continue New York City’s efforts as a leader in the fight against global warming.”

    The inventory will serve as the benchmark for reducing greenhouse gas (carbon) emissions by 30 percent between now and 2030, a target the Mayor set during his December 12, 2006 speech. Specific plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to targeted levels will be detailed in a major policy speech scheduled for later this month. The speech is expected to propose solutions to the challenges facing New York City as it grows by approximately one million residents between now and 2030. The report released today breaks down emissions into two separate inventories: those produced by New York City as a whole and those produced from City government operations.

    New York’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory was completed as part ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability’s “Cities for Climate Protection” Campaign. New York is one of 750 cities participating internationally, including 240 U.S. cities. The analysis shows that citywide carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions were approximately 58 million metric tons in 2005, with 79 percent coming from buildings. New York’s carbon emissions were approximately 1 percent of 2005 U.S. totals, and less than a third of the average U.S. per capita level. However, citywide emissions have increased by approximately 8 percent in the last ten years, and are on trend to increase approximately 25 percent above 2005 levels by 2030.

    City government CO2e emissions were 3.8 million metric tons in 2006, with 64 percent coming from City owned buildings. City government emissions increased by 15 percent from 1995 to 2001. Nevertheless, government emissions have remained stable over the last five years, and are on trend to remain so through 2017, despite background growth in electricity use.

    “We applaud New York City for the completion of their greenhouse gas inventory, the most comprehensive ever completed by a U.S. city, which builds on the tremendous progress the city has already made towards climate protection,” said Michelle Wyman, Executive Director of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. “The biggest city in the U.S. is also one of the leaders in local climate action, earning the nickname the ‘Big Green Apple.’ New York City has demonstrated that we can turn the problem of global warming into profitable solutions that also make our communities cleaner, better places to live.”

    “By undertaking this inventory and setting an achievable benchmark, we are asserting ourselves as global leaders in green initiatives and sustainable development, and with our City poised to grow by more than a million people in the next couple of decades, that is the only position that makes sense,” said Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff. “Cities are more energy efficient and produce one third less carbon emissions per capita than our rural and suburban counterparts. We need to look at the challenges of our future growth, but we need to welcome and accommodate that growth in the interest of fighting global warming.”

    The inventory released today reports that actions taken by the City from 1995 to 2006 resulted in the avoided emission of 446,000 metric tons of CO2e per year. Additional actions taken between 2006 and 2017 are projected to result in annual avoided emissions of 404,000 metric tons by 2017. The past actions include the ENCORE program, an agreement between the City and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) that provides financing for energy efficiency projects in City buildings, the use of alternative fuel vehicles in the City’s fleet, landfill methane recovery, and the conversion of traffic signals to LEDs. Planned future to further reduce CO2e emissions include the switch from truck to barge and rail for the hauling of solid waste out of the City as part of the landmark Solid Waste Management Program (the SWMP), Local Law 86 of 2005 (the City’s green buildings law), Local Law 119 of 2005 (the energy efficient products procurement law), and increased street tree planting citywide.

    “Global warming is, without a doubt, the most pressing environmental issue of our time and it is clear that urgent action by all levels of government is necessary to avert its catastrophic consequences,” said Councilman Gennaro. “Mayor Bloomberg continues to show tremendous leadership in the fight against global warming, and he deserves the support and gratitude of all New Yorkers.”

    The Mayor also announced today that New York City will host mayors and delegations from cities around the world at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, convened to promote the role of cities in reducing carbon emissions and reversing global climate change. The Summit will take place May 14-17, 2007, at the Essex House Hotel and other venues throughout the City. The Clinton Climate Initiative, the Partnership for New York City and NYC Global Partners, Inc. are organizing the event on behalf of the Bloomberg Administration and the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group.

    Mayor Bloomberg will welcome mayors from more than 30 of the world’s largest cities, including London, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Moscow and Istanbul. Private sector companies will also be represented through sponsorship of sessions and events, and having CEOs in attendance. These companies include: JP Morgan Chase & Co., Alcoa, Deutsche Bank, the Hearst Corporation, the Shell Oil Company, Siemens, Time Warner, BSKYB, Citigroup, Con Edison, Federated Department Stores, General Electric, Keyspan, KPMG LLP, Swiss Re, and Tishman Speyer.

    “The Climate Summit will showcase the important role that New York City’s international business community is playing around the world to help cities make the most of the economic development opportunities associated with cleaner and greener business practices,” said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City.

    “The challenge of reducing greenhouse gas (carbon) emissions can only be addressed if global cities are ready to share their experiences and innovative approaches,” said Commissioner Marjorie Tiven, NYC Global Partners Acting President. “This will be the sixth international meeting hosted by Mayor Bloomberg, which promotes cooperation and sharing of information on best practices among the world’s great cities.”

    For more information on PlaNYC or NYC Global Partners, log onto www.nyc.gov. For more information about the Large Cities Climate Summit, log onto www.nycclimatesummit.com.

    -30- Welcome to 'The Big Green Apple'