Written By Kerby Marcelin | October 12, 2016 | Published in Urban Design, NYC Lifestyle

New York City has accelerated its strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, discerning how heavily the city itself is menaced by climate change. Two years ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city’s plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 2005 numbers by 2050. Since the Big Apple’s buildings are responsible for nearly 75 percent of its emissions — city officials launched One City: Built to Last-Transforming New York City’s Buildings for a Low Carbon Future — a 10-year formula to boost building’s energy efficiency with efforts from the city to private and institutional sectors. A 30 percent reduction by 2030 in building-caused emissions is their initial goal.

“The cumulative effect of our green buildings policies proves not only that New York City is on track to achieve our ambitious 80x50 goals,” the mayor said in a Climate Week conference. “It also demonstrates that we continue to set the pace towards becoming the most sustainable big city in the world.”

To achieve the ambitious goal, the city has already taken vital steps. Programs like NYC Retrofit Accelerator, Community Retrofit NYC, the Green Housing Preservation Program, and the NYC Carbon Challenge have worked with more than 3,800 buildings. The Office of the Mayor reported that these programs can reduce GHG emissions by more than 1 million metric tons by 2025 and generate about 1,000 jobs.

A bill to make biodiesel fuel such as vegetable oil five percent of home heating oil passed the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee last week. The mixture might reach 20 percent by 2034, reducing emissions equivalent to taking 175,000 cars off the road, according to NY Daily News.

PVTech reported that permits will be issued for more than 3,000 solar panel installations this year, towering to a total above 8,000 in 2016. This places the city on an unswerving path to fulfill its 2025 objective of 100 Megawatt of solar power on public buildings and 250MW on private buildings.

“We are actively working with government agencies and the solar industry to encourage more solar development,” said Matthew Ketschke, the Vice President of Distributed Resource at Con Edison, during the conference. “To this point, our New York City customers have completed more than 6,500 solar projects, producing about 80 Megawatt of clean renewable power.”

In the United States, greenhouse gas emissions are mainly caused by humans. Burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation has been the main culprit. In addition to citywide buildings becoming more energy efficient, the public transportation system has propelled NYC to avoid 17 million metric tons of pollutants, since 56 percent of commuters use it. The city began to think of ways to make electric vehicles more available, encouraging walking and cycling.

NYC’s GHG emissions have been cut whereas global emissions have never been higher. Scientists reported that the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere may have surpassed the 400 parts per million mark (PPM) permanently. Safety is assured when CO2 is 350 parts per million. To arrive at that point, the world economy must shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable agricultural methods with urgency.

Although the city has already reduced its emissions by 14 percent and is on track to reach nearly 42 percent by 2030, the dramatic rise in sea level will not make it easy. Therefore, every single New Yorker should play his or her part. A financial and societal revolution in the way we use energy is needed. By keeping the level of determination up, New York City might be the first to accomplish the 80 x 50 goal in the United States.


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