In This Section

A coalition of about 40 environmental and labor groups issued a report Thursday urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to push more aggressively to reduce emissions and address climate change, laying out measures the groups say will create nearly 40,000 jobs a year.

The report, "Climate Works for All," is authored by The Alliance for a Greater New York, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, the New York City Central Labor Council, the BlueGreen Alliance and the AFL-CIO. It lays out 10 proposals.

The green groups and unions acknowledged that many of the proposals are underway, but said they want to keep the pressure on the mayor.

"Several of the proposals in this report overlap with measures proposed by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, but others push the city to even stronger action on climate change and quality job creation," the 32-page report states.

The groups recommend investing $2 billion a year in public and private funds on initiatives that include mandated energy retrofits for city buildings, replacing half of New York City Housing Authority's 60 boilers with combined heat and power, expanding the city's green jobs training program, replacing and repairing leaky gas pipes, expanding solar installations at 100 city schools, investing in microgrids, investing in stormwater and flood protection measures, redesigning commercial waste hauling zones, increasing Bus Rapid Transit and restoring train lines and investing in hospital resiliency measures.

The report praises many of the efforts being pushed by the mayor and Council, but provides specific benchmarks, costs and outcomes for some more aggressive ideas. The report also highlights the job-creation aspect of the investments, which total $20 billion over the next decade.

"New York City can do much more to reduce G.H.G. [greenhouse gas] emissions and to increase the resiliency of its climate-vulnerable communities, while ensuring that quality jobs are created for its residents," the report states.

The report also highlights the need to focus on environmental justice communities, poorer communities of color that often bear the brunt of pollution as well as storm damage.

“The 'Climate Works for All' agenda is long overdue, especially in lower-income communities and in communities of color where income equality and climate change are most deeply connected," Eddie Bautista, head of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, said in a statement. "Enacting these proposals will create good quality jobs and career paths for New Yorkers who are exposed to the greatest hazards of climate change and economic unfairness."

The report claims its recommendations could create 38,000 "career-track" jobs a year while cutting the equivalent of 11.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The city emits roughly 48 million metric tons annually.

Aspects of the report will be controversial.

De Blasio's plan to retrofit private buildings to be more energy-efficient is voluntary, though he has promised mandates if landlords don't act quickly enough. Thursday's report asks the City Council to make the retrofits mandatory.

"The City Council should pass legislation mandating energy use performance targets in existing buildings," the report states. "The long-term target should require 60 percent energy use reductions below 2010 levels by 2050."

The report urges Con Edison to speed up the pace of repairing or replacing 3,200 miles of old and leaky gas pipes. The utility now replaces mains at a rate of roughly 65 miles a year at an annual cost of $110 million.

"At that rate, it would take the utility more than 35 years to replace all its cast iron gas mains in New York City," the report states, arguing the utility and state should double its funding and cut the timeframe to 15 years.

Con Edison did not immediately reply to a request for comment but most additional spending by the utility would likely involve an increase in rates or surcharges.

The report's recommendation that the city rethink commercial waste zones, a process called "franchising," is something the private hauling industry has long feared.

The idea is to divide the city into zones and have one contractor handle each zone. Supporters say this will reduce overlapping traffic patterns, cut pollution and streamline the collection process.

Private haulers say geographical zones don't take into account specialty services for specific customers. Moreover in the case of commercial chains, it would mean a single company would have to contract with multiple haulers.

"Establishing waste collection zones will eliminate good paying jobs for many workers, and will eliminate the current competitive market that benefits customers," said David Biderman general counsel and vice president of government affairs for the National Waste & Recycling Association, a trade group. "Also, our customers in New York City have a wide variety of service needs, and expecting a single carter, or even a few carters, to be able to handle all of these needs is naive."

Biderman said his group is looking to work with the mayor and Council to examine other ways to reduce truck traffic.


To read the full article, visit Capital New York